Church of North India - Community Approach for Rural Development

THE CHURCH OF NORTH INDIA (CNI): COMMUNITY APPROACH FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT (CAFORD)

Community Approach for Rural Development (CAFORD) is a programme that seeks to improve public health via community-based initiatives and a hospital referral service. The Church of North India launched CAFORD in 2016 at Khrishtiya Seva Niketan Hospital in Sarenga, West Bengal, in the Diocese of Durgapur.

The programme’s aim is to provide holistic health care that is acceptable, affordable and accessible by the community. It does this by encouraging community participation, organising people’s groups to identify the problems and then establishing initiatives to address them. This way, it places local people at the centre of their own development, and they have a more hands-on role in transforming their personal circumstances.

Khrishtiya Seva Niketan Hospital runs mobile clinics and offers cataract operations to those in need. CAFORD’s project coordinator, Soukanya Mandi has established a good rapport with the local residents, and CAFORD’s offers of cataract surgery have helped restore people’s trust in local eye doctors.

CAFORD serves villages situated within the Sarenga Panchayat Block in the Bankura District of West Bengal – an area that covers a radius of about 40 kilometres from Khrishtiya Seva Niketan Hospital. This is one of the most deprived districts in the state of West Bengal. An estimated 47% of total population belonging to the Tribal and other disadvantaged communities. Areas of concern affecting the local population are low literacy (especially among women), lack of skills and opportunities for development, poor health, malnutrition, high infant mortality.

CAFORD also has an element of socio-economic empowerment of women through a self-help group process. A room in Khrishtiya Seva Niketan Hospital is equipped with sewing machines available for sewing classes. Local women who have taken these classes have then been able to earn an income from tailoring.