The Lady in a march to ignite dormant souls

'' The 4 amazing persons that constructed me -

My Mother who taught me what Strength is.

My Father who taught me what Happiness is.

My Husband who taught me what Sacrifice is

and My Son who taught me what subsistence is ''

Born in a traditionalist family in October23rd, 1983, Archana was very scholastic by nature from childhood. She did her HSLC from Dergaon Girls Higher Secondary School in the year 2000, HS from Kamal Deorah College, Dergaon in the year 2002, BA in Assamese literature, Cotton College in 2005 and MA in Assamese Literature, Gauhati Unversity in 2007.

From an early age she used to participate in multifarious competitions. She was profound in Debate and Recitation. Her lucid short stories published in almost all dailies, magazines, since her childhood, always lured readers. She has written a few novels also. She was felicitated as a short story writer by Sahitya Shabha Assam in 2010 and has innumerable awards and recognition to her credit. (Click here to see course of life)

She started her career as a journalist. She worked for 8 years with premier media houses like DY365, Pratidin Time and News Time Assam. Being an anchor and producer also, she has innumerable television serials to her credit. She is also engaged in different roles, as an announcer for All India Radio, Director of Value based education and Child development project for Assam Development Initiative and several institutional member.

 

Achana is also a very popular and sought after Motivational speaker rendering her services professionally and She is also a quintessential businesswomen.

 

Since childhood, she was of emphatic nature that evoked the social worker in her, which eventually led to the birth of social welfare society Priyobondhu. In November, 2015, Archana Borthakur founded Priyobondhu in pursuit of community development and social change. Since inception, along with her tireless team, she has been working perpetually for the underprivileged and disadvantaged people throughout rural and urban areas of Assam.

 

Initially in 2015, she contrived the idea of creating a 'Clothes, food and educational equipment bank'.  The purpose of the bank was to serve families, children, seniors and others at risk of hunger, collect usable second hand, new clothes and distribute throughout the year to the less fortunate people who are short of adequate clothing and establish an educational items bank for Children and distribute it among the needy and less fortunate children throughout the year. 

 

On May 1, 2016 she implemented a health awareness program 'Know Cancer' to raise awareness and educate people about the disease Cancer and the need of proper and timely diagnosis and treatment.

 

Archana initiated several Skill building programs to promote employment oriented skill development program and to encourage self employment by providing necessary help to marginalized women. She conducted many vocational training programs and workshops which has enabled marginalized women and girls to learn and enhance their skills and confidence by making themselves self reliant.

 

Consequently, whilst travelling to several remote rural areas of Assam, She realized that, there is also a need to focus on the necessities of Women and Children. Moved by certain events, on May 13, 2017,

‘Let us talk’ a program on Menstrual Hygiene Management was implemented. The purpose of the program is to educate girls about menstruation prior to menarche and understanding the biological change, educate adolescent girls and women on safe menstrual practices and liberalization from social taboos and providing access to knowledge and information, safe menstrual absorbents, water, sanitation, hygiene and safe disposal of used menstrual absorbents.

Concurrently, Archana was carrying the thought of need for Children programs. She observed that Children who didn't have a good breakfast in the morning were less attentive in school and less inclined to do well and suffered from fatigue. She states- ''Breakfast is considered to be the most important meal of the day.'' She decided to provide breakfast every morning before school to the poor children. The survival program was named ‘Breakfast for a Child’. The prime objective of the program is to eradicate child hunger and breakfast skipping by providing a healthy breakfast on a daily basis consisting of a variety of foods, especially high-fiber and nutrient-rich whole grains, fruits, and dairy products, and from 29th August 2017 the project was implemented at Kailashpur LP School, Kahilipara, Guwahati.

Every year unprecedented flood hits almost all parts of Assam. It creates a huge devastation and many lives are being lost. Villages get submerged. Properties, animals etc. all gets washed away. People lay stranded. People suffer from severe food and water shortages and other essentials. They are in desperate need of food primarily. When flood strikes, the immediate impact is food supply shortage resulting to hunger. Archana with her team is relentlessly serving the flood victims with relief materials all across Assam every year since inception.

Looking at the alarming rise of child sexual abuse, molesting, groping etc. cases, Archana launched an Awareness program on safe, unsafe, unwanted touch for girl child was commenced from February 13, 2018. The program is named ''Loudly no''. The objective of the program is teaching girls about limits to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them and how they will respond when someone passes those limits, empowering girls by respecting their choices and their right to say no and empowering girls by teaching self defense.

In 2018 she and her team worked on a project on Mother and Child Health (MCH) care to create awareness and educate the community and procurement of MCH schemes and services provided by the Government. It is a comprehensive community health program for mother and child to provide primary health care consciousness and services. The project has reached 87 villages.

The light of knowledge is more equally significant with health and livelihood in any rural society of India. Schools in rural areas are still struggling for infrastructures, facilities and proficient teachers. Such was Pukarkata LP School (non-provincialised) of Lahorighat in Morigaon District which was established in 1982. But the 35 year infrastructure succumbed to unavailability of funds. There were no walls on all four sides. Only left was the bamboo poles, rusted roof, 4 pairs of desk and benches and one blackboard. The students cannot resist the winds, rains, the scorching sun and consequently school sessions became irregular. Archana, with the help of London based Non resident Indians reconstructed the school building providing all school supplies.

It all began on a chilly winter day in December 2015 when Archana stepped at Hanuman Nagar Basti (Slum), Narengi, Guwahati in a motive to distribute warm clothing to the disadvantaged Children, Women and Men. As you might imagine the unhealthy living conditions, ramshackle houses, impoverished people, using drain water, open defecation, Alcoholism, Substance abuse, amoral behaviors etc.

Subsequently, She visited numerous times and conducted community awareness programs on WASH, MHM, Importance of Education etc. and organized several health camps. Gradually they came to know of their livelihood through household surveys and interactive sessions. Children living in the Slum were found with certain behavioral disorders and most of them were found to be School dropouts or never been to school. Most of the Children were engaged in waste picking and household activities. Since then she began intervention for the development of the Women and Children in the Slum. She provided single meals and serve a single regular ‘Full Course Meal’ to satisfy them who desire to eat a Nutrient-rich and delicious meal. But the motive behind the program is an enticement to attract people to learn life skills for full involvement in their daily life. Her team often conducted open air school sessions and saw Children being attracted to education one after another.

Before

After

Consequently, on July 1, 2019 Archana formally announced and launched an ''Integrated Program for Welfare of Women and Children '', where a Non-formal Education Centre to assist Women and Children, with limited accessibility to improve their quality of life, was opened. The Program focused on Nutrition, Education, Women Empowerment, Women and Children Health, Community Awareness and providing Basic essential supplies. A makeshift room for regular classes is constructed temporarily with 15 regular students whom daily breakfast and lunch is provided with regular educational supplies, clothes and uniforms, daily basic essentials etc. Being activity based learning and experiential learning the topmost priority, Education on Basic Assamese, Basic English, Basic Maths, Environmental Studies, GK and Current Affairs, Drawing, Performing Arts etc. are also imparted. Special care of their health are also being taken care of by regular care and checkups. Apart from regular amusements, Children were taken on a day out trip away from their regular environment, and the primary reason is to create social responsibility through communication and interpersonal relationship process among the Children.

The major achievement in these 6 months came, when 4 of the Children of NFE Centre got selected in Government School at 2 no Mathgharia LP School on 3rd, Jan. ’20. These are the once street Children (Sunil, Rekha, Sunita and Sita)who could never make their way to School due to poverty, ignorance of parents, other engagements such as rag picking to name a few, are now happy learners who enthusiastically waits for the School bell to ring.

Archana converted the slum wasteland into a productive vegetation land. Archana’s aim was to engage the womenfolk of the slum in the process of garden cultivation and management. The garden came as a boon to the people of the slum in times of food crisis during pandemic.

Another big issue of the slum was clean drinking water, open bathing, open defecation in nearby railway tracks, ditches, wasteland etc. To resolve these issues, she installed a water storage tank for clean and safe drinking water, semi concrete bathroom and semi concrete lavatory.

One of the routine exercises of IPWWC program is - Children doing chores. In addition, by enhancing skill of a child, it helps them contribute to the family as well as the society at large.

Simultaneously, She implemented the ‘Garden cultivation and management program’ under Priyobondhu’s flagship program IPWWC (Integrated program for welfare of Women and Children), which is intended to engage the Children as well as the Women in the process of environmental education by helping them to learn to produce their own source of food for improving their diet and health by cultivation vegetables, fruits and flowers and raise interest on importance of cultivation.

Archana says- '' We are investing on school children because educating school children on environmental education is advantageous, as it will reach more recipients with minimal resources. Children are generally eager to learn and disseminate positive behavioral change in the community too. Children also play key roles in their household related to environment, and steer change in their families and the society. These children will be the parents of the future generation who will pass on cultivation knowledge and practice to their homes and communities that they have learnt in their own childhood.

Through gardening Children will learn to get involved in hands-on learning agricultural practices and cultivation. In due course they will feel more connected to nature and learn to respect nature. Keeping in view of the present environmental issues, Children must be taught to take the responsibility of the environment.

The School garden concept is a way of generating behavioral change and influencing decision making for sustainability. It can shape the future if the resources and energy are dedicated to the cause in the right way.

The program is functional in 4 centres at Guwahati Narengi, Khetri Dharbam, Khetri Paschim Killing and Khetri 2 no. Robingaon.''

And now, regular nutritious daily breakfast, daily lunch and dinner(occasional) is being provided to all 4 schools with a strength of 187 children in total.

She has been organizing several legal awareness camps in remote village areas to aware several laws which have been enacted for the welfare protection and security of the citizens such as, Legal provisions of self guarding the rights of women, their health rights, Child Marriage prohibition, Domestic violence and Legal provisions of Constitutional rights, Labour laws, Consumer rights, Property laws, Forest law, ST status, Right to information etc.

 

She has been organizing several disaster awareness camps in remote village areas to aware and train the rural community to deal with natural as well as man-made disasters minimizing and prevent loss of life, livelihood, property etc.

 

Archana led several public programs on developing good environmental practices like Hospital cleanliness, Tree plantations etc.

 

In the early stages Archana implemented a short term project at Navoday path basti situated at Hatigaon, Guwahati, Assam. Most of them are daily wage earners or petty peddlers. Maximum children are school dropouts and only few of them could make their way to school. Gambling, alcohol and easily available drug abuse is the environment of the basti. Parents and guardians are reluctant to send their students to school and instigate them to become a source of earning. The people of the basti dwell in a very unhygienic condition with no proper drinking water or sanitation facilities. An open air daily evening school was set up for the school dropout children. Organized motivational interactive sessions against gambling, alcohol and drug abuse. Sensitized parents and guardians for sending their children to school. Organized health awareness group discussions.

 

Archana never steps back in supporting women victim of difficult circumstances. She is now instrumental in settling many domestic violence issues personally or using referral services.

 

She has also set up few Libraries and provided sports equipment in village schools.

 

Archana has been a regular visitor of Old Age Homes with a holistic approach for Old aged people who either have been abandoned by families or who has no relatives to take care of. She says-

''It is often seen that the isolation of being away or deprived from the loved ones becomes a prime psychological issue for the old people. A few kind motivational words, a meal together, a little amusement together etc. can make a big difference. Gifting some good things, clothes etc. can feel them being cared.''

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