Ragpickers Education & Development Scheme (REDS) is working for the socio-economic development of ragpickers, coal-pickers, domestic-helpers, child-labourers, neglected children of daily labourers and migrated families (of Schedule Cast and Schedule Tribe) in Bengaluru (Karnataka), Ranchi (Jharkhand), Hosur (Tamil-Nadu) and Patna (Bihar), who are in need of help to sustain and would like to use the available resources properly by collaborating actively for their prosperity.
REDS’s programs -street contacts, medical aid, literacy, recreational activities, formal education, vocational skill training, computer literacy, family visits, sensitization, income generation and financial assistance through self-help groups- had been formulated to eliminate ignorance, to prevent victimization and to promote holistic development for the needy children and their families in urban and rural areas. Seasonal and motivational camps are organized, by networking with expertise and professionals to emphasize the educational development of girl-children, to create self-employment opportunities, to promote healthy motherhood and to educate on civic responsibility.
The field-staff and the street-educators identify the beneficiaries, initiate a working relationship, discuss with the children’s guardians and refer them to the REDS-contact centers. The centers-in-charge and the professionals analyze their needs and respond favourably through the concerned authorities. The illiterate and the school drop-outs are tutored and assisted to enroll at the nearby formal schools. Their entire educational needs like school fee, uniform, text-books and stationeries are provided. To monitor their academic-progress continuously, these students are invited to the centers after the school-hours, for extra coaching and for nutrition.
REDS-staff maintain a working-relationship with the school authorities and continue to organize motivational camps for the beneficiaries and their guardians. A few of the former beneficiaries have joined the staff-team. Some of them assist during special programs and others introduce REDS to their friends and to the needy.
How REDS began: REDS activities were initiated by an Inter-religious Dialogue Group and the Catholic Workers Movement in April 1979, as they had seen the sufferings of the migrated poor and their exploitation. This noble mission got a new shape in 1984 through the support of BMSSS- Bangalore Multi-purpose Social Service Society. With the support of local and inter-national agencies, a shelter was built at the Sacred Heart Church campus for these poor children. Volunteers and well-wishers from the neighbourhoods, pious associations, social clubs, institutions and companies donated food and clothing to observe their family anniversaries and to celebrate seasonal festivals at the shelter. Some institutions had taken these children to their homes to celebrate with them. Youth groups and college students and trainees shared their skills, values and taught them literacy. How did the Marianist-Trust become involved in REDS: During the initial formation period, the Marianists receive multiple trainings, to serve the rural and urban poor, exposed to assisting the sick, the physically challenged, the destitute and the socially marginalized. In line with the Marianist heritage, the seasoned educationists, professionals and social workers help the Marianists to practice cardinal virtues and to eliminate ignorance, vices and prejudices.
In 1988, the pioneering Marianists- scholastics and the aspirants in Bengaluru used to visit the ragpickers- contact centre as a part of their educational activities. The following year they had socialized and entertained these underprivileged-children at the Marianists’ residence. That hospitality evening enlightened the Marianists to get associated with REDS.
Since then, we gladly share our resources with them. REDS office, REDS – Skill training programs- and the contact centers are located within the Marianist campus! Participants visit us cheerfully with their siblings, friends and relatives and with pets!
From 1992 onwards, the Marianist Trust supports and sponsors all the activities of REDS. In 1995, the Marianists-novices had initiated the survey in Ranchi to work for the welfare of the ragpickers. In July 1996, the Marianists sponsored for the observation survey officially, with the permission from the Ranchi archdiocese. The report was submitted to the Chapter 1996 and REDS Ranchi was inaugurated in 1997 and REDS Skill Training Center (STC) was initiated in Deepahalli Bengaluru in 1998. Earlier, the Patna Archdiocese invited the Marianists in Digha-Ghat, Patna, to study the plight of the Musahar ragpickers of the Maha-dalit communities and to consider the possibilities of extending the services of REDS Ranchi, among the other outreach programs. From October 2012, the Marianists in Patna continue to maintain a regular contact with the ragpicking children and their families to initiate REDS-Patna. The ragpickers and their friends come to the Marianists’ residence on Saturdays’ for recreational activities and for refreshments. The neighbours have joined hands to help these friendly visitors.
In 2004, the Marianists and the REDS- Bengaluru staff were asked to initiate a survey in Housr, the bordering city of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, to extend REDS program which would prevent migration. Based on the results, the Marianist Trust permitted opening two play schools and two tailoring units in Parvathi Nagar and Ram Nagar, Hosur. There are four teachers and two support staff to run the programs. At present there are 75 children in two play schools and 65 trainees in the two tailoring units. The local councillors and the neighbours continue to support to these programs. The REDS-STC (Skill Training Center) provides residential training programs for boys in carpentry, welding, tailoring, computer, plumbing and basic-electrical course besides educating them on mental health, healthy recreational activities, sports & games, personal hygiene, social-life skills, communication skills and value education. The eligible trainees appear for the SSLC exams. The primary school aged children are enrolled in the nearby formal school. REDS Ranchi had introduced traditional knitting, creative embroidery and marketable soft-skill training. Different income generation activities are introduced to the trainees and to their families. They participate actively for their prosperity. The well experienced REDS staff team and the support staff compassionately provide multiple opportunities to the underprivileged to live a dignified life through the kind resources of the Marianist Trust, benefactors, friends, institutions, agencies, companies, well wishers, associations and enthusiastic-volunteers from all walks of life!
REDS also trains youth to create awareness among the public. REDS gladly welcomes the like minded to create a bright future for the disadvantaged. If you are willing, please contact the nearby office, thank you!