A glimpse into Merino’s CSR initiatives
Merino Group believes in socially responsible thinking coupled with formulating a strategy to use our skills and resources thereby creating a positive change in the lives of the underprivileged sections of the society. We believe it is our duty to support the weaker sections of society through our sustained CSR projects. The company implements its CSR activities through Sri Hara Kasturi Memorial Trust, formed specifically for this purpose. To create a significant impact in the lives of people, our CSR programs are mainly focused on two broad segments:
- Education – Our education program emphasizes on educating the underprivileged children and empowering them to lead a better life. Swami Vivekananda Arunoday Vidyalay (SVAV), the school that we run at Hapur, works as a catalyst in spreading education and empowers the economically weak households to improve their social habits and conditions. Through our educational programs we have been able to touch the lives of people in Northern and Eastern India.
- Health Care – Along with education, we believe that overall development and progress of any nation grossly depends upon the health and wellbeing of its citizens. Our free healthcare services for prevention of diseases among the poor and needy and for their well-being is one of the steps taken towards building up a healthy society. Promotion of yogic practices helps to build strong body and mind and work for betterment of all-round social well-being. Our health care program is currently limited to parts of Northern India only.
The School initiative – Swami Vivekananda Arunoday Vidyalay (SVAV)
Swami Vivekananda said, “Education, education, education alone! Travelling through many cities of Europe and observing in them the comforts and education of even the poor people there, was brought to my mind the state of our own poor people, and I used to shade tears. What made the difference? Education was the answer I got.”
We believe that education plays a fundamental role in determining the prosperity and well-being of citizens. Investment in education can have a long lasting and sustainable impact on its citizen. It is the only long-term solution to the problem and challenges faced by humanity in general and India in particular.
At Swami Vivekanda Arunoday Vidyalay (SVAV) teaching isn’t just a job to an educator, it’s a calling. It’s passion and commitment and a desire to amplify the voices and dreams of the many children whose lives touch them as much as the educator touches theirs. We believe that an educator is one of those people who goes farther than what is expected.
Established in 2013 predominantly for girl students, this co-educational school opened new avenues of learning for the children of underprivileged and economically weaker families living in the vicinity of Merino establishments. Started with just 15 students in its maiden year, the school now enrolls students from economically weaker families up to class VI and has a strength of 116 students.
The pandemic has affected the educational system not only in India but across the globe. School closures not only impact the students, teachers, and families, but have far-reaching economic and societal consequences. Despite the pandemic, as per our commitment, we ensured that the students graduating from Class VI continue their studies till they complete their Higher Secondary. We got all our 11 students (7 Girls & 4 Boys) of Class VI admitted in two very reputed schools in Hapur, Smt. Brahmadevi Saraswati Balika Vidya Mandir (for Girls) and Saraswati Bal Mandir (for Boys) respectively.
Academic Learning Challenges: Lockdown confined our children within their houses against their inherent and inquisitive nature of exploring things. Our teachers were continuously in touch with the students to keep them motivated. The teachers helped students in practicing yoga everyday morning and planned various creative activities, such as model making, essay writing, online recitation competition, etc.
In June, 2020, 9 students participated in Future Fingers Global Drawing Competition, a global campaign for drawing initiated by the HundrED Ambassadors to shape the future of education. The theme was,’What will the future classroom look like / How the learning will happen in 2050? Alish Sagar from Class 5, who was one of the participants got selected as one of the top global artists of the year by HundrED (Finland) Ambassador community.
Training of Teachers – From Classroom to Digital teaching: To help our teachers to transition from classroom teaching to online, we partnered with Socrates Foundation for Enhanced Learning, Pune, starting May 25, 2020 for two weeks. The training covered multiple topics to enhance their teaching skills, such as 5Es of lesson planning, Bloom’s Taxonomy, Good questioning strategies, peer reviews, etc. The training helped the teachers to understand various tools and techniques that could enhance students’ learning through digital mode.
Turning students to digital mode: The students were also ill-equipped for digital learning. A survey revealed that only 70% our students were having the smartphones. We provided smart phones to 24 students who were unable to arrange on their own, on interest free loan at a monthly instalment of Rs.400/- to be repaid in two years.
New Admissions to Class-1: The lockdown led to a delay in admitting the new batch of children, however, to maintain the quality and standard of SVAV, we made no compromise in the selection process. Out of over 300 applications received we shortlisted and selected 20 students and they all have gone through various stages of selection, such as, personal interview, written test, demonstration classes and finally home visit by senior officials to assess their economic status coupled with academic bent of mind and adaptability in the school environment.
Vidyarambha Sanskar: We always start the academic session for the new batch of Class-1 students with Vidyarambha Sanskar. This is a traditional ritual in which we offer prayers and conduct havan (offerings to fire). The pandemic caused a delay and we could do the Vidyarambha Sanskar only by end September by offering prayers to the Goddess of Knowledge, Maa Saraswati and handing over the School Bag, books and stationeries to the students.
Educational Scholarship Programs
Scholarship to Graduate Students: This scholarship program is currently being implemented in Northern India, at Hapur, Uttar Pradesh. We are committed to hand hold the students who have graduated from SVAV till they complete their Higher Secondary. Financial assistance (school fees and books) and academic support through structured coaching is provided to students graduating from SVAV to help them complete their education till 12th standard and ensure their academic standards are maintained along with fulfilling their nutritional needs. During FY FY 2020-21, 29 Students (20 girls + 9 boys), were imparted structured coaching and have also been provided with all financial support and guidance to continue their education in well-established private secondary schools outside SVAV.
Yogakshema – Scholarship for bright and needy students: Currently this program implemented in Eastern part of India, in Kolkata, West Bengal.Yogakshema was launched in September 2018 to help the poor and disadvantaged but meritorious students. The scholarship is offered for two years to those students who have scored over 80% in their 10th Board Examination. These students are offered a scholarship @ of Rs. 4000/- per month to help them complete class XI and class XII, and covers the expenses for their studies, some nutritional needs, and a Mediclaim policy for the family.
This year Yogakshema inducted the 3rd batch of 20 students under its fold. The first batch of 20 students have passed their Higher Secondary examination with flying colours. All the students have scored over 80% out of which five students have scored over 90%. Considering the situation created by Corona, it was decided by the trustees to continue the scholarship for 7 outstanding students, through personal funding of Trustee(s) and their close relatives. The 2nd batch of 20 students are in their 2nd year. At present 40 students are benefitting from this scholarship Program. A career counselling session was also organised for students in which Mr. Rajarshi Banerjee, Career Counsellor, IBM guided the students on various options before them, other eminent guests were Dr. B N Karmakar, Chief Secretary and Dr. Sankhya Sanyal, Prof. of Physics from Jadavpur University.
To ensure that the scholars do not spend their scholarship money in unproductive private tuitions, HKMT has engaged six eminent teachers, who are taking online classes for English, Bengali, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics and Biology respectively. The students are now attending each class twice a week online. To assess their progress online examinations are also conducted by the teachers. To help students overcome the challenges of internet connectivity, subject wise video recording of the lectures are being developed.
To encourage students, express their talents, Yogakshema program has started a quarterly in-house magazine named ‘Abhi’. The first issue got published in March and was distributed among distinguished personalities in the field of education and other well-wishers. The talents were highly appreciated by all those who got the copy.
As most of the students are staying in a very small and congested rooms, they used to sit either on floor or bed for their studies, due to which some have developed spine problem. Understanding the need, Merino got folding tables and chairs designed with wall attachment. The students are now conveniently doing their studies on the folding tables and chairs which can folded and kept when not in use and doesn’t occupy any space.
Extending support in Rohad, Haryana
We believe in giving back to the society and try to help the communities around our establishment. Near our Merino campus in Rohad, Haryana we are providing mid-day meals to Savera School, Jhajjar, for mentally challenged children and to Bal Griha, Bahdurgarh, an orphanage for Girls. Through this program we are able to serve 85 inmates (50 boys+35 girls) of Savera School and 23 girls of the Bal Griha. Thus through mid-day meals we are able to meet the nutritional need of 108 children.
Supporting Students’ families during lockdown
We not only take care of the academic performances of our students but also their nutritional needs to ensure their holistic development. Prior to lockdown at SVAV we used to offer students nutritious meals three times a day, i.e., Breakfast, Lunch and Supper, having a carefully selected menu for the week, to serve nutritious and tasty food to our students to ensure their physical and mental well-being.
The impact of the initial lockdown has been very severe for our students’ families. A quick survey by the teachers, made us realise that many families don’t even have the stock of ration at their homes to meet their day to day food requirement. To help our 127 students’ families sustain themselves during the lockdown, we provided them raw food supplies, such as Wheat-flour, Rice, Lentil, Oil, salt, sugar and vegetables. We had to carefully identify the families who needed our support, keeping in mind that we are not affecting their self-esteem in any manner. Between April and May, 2020, we have carried out 5 rounds of raw food supplies and distributed 262 food packets to help the families sustain themselves about 10 days. Apart from supporting our students’ families, along with the local administration, we also distributed 1500 packets of raw food supplies to 1500 families helping them meet their ration requirement for about 10 days.
Sankat Mochan Abhiyaan – Covid Awareness Campaign
Seeing the growing impact of the pandemic made us think of the safety of the citizens of Hapur residing around our factory. Thus to create awareness amongst the people of Hapur we launched the Sankat Mochan Abhiyaan. The literal meaning of Sankat Mochan Abhiyaan is, a campaign to resolve of all the problems. Multiple activities have been undertaken under this campaign.
Awareness Campaign & Sanitation Drive: With the help of Local Area Representatives we covered 23 localities of Hapur, between July and October 2020. During this period, we organised door to door campaigns, put up banners, distributed pamphlets, medicines and also Ayush Kadha (sachets) for boosting immunity. We distributed 13800 units of medicines in the communities to help boost their immunity. We covered 19 localities and did full sanitisation of streets and common gathering places. Local communities were engaged in carrying out this sanitization drive along with our office staff.
Daridra Narayan Seva – Blanket Distribution Drive: To serve the poor, the street dwellers and help them beat extreme cold of December we distributed 990 blankets. Our staff went out at night beating the cold to identify and serve those who needed it the most.
Intra Company initiatives – Safety & Awareness
Vaccination Drive: After the government opened up the Vaccination Drive for 45 years and above, Merino made it mandatory for all employees above the age of 45 to get vaccinated. Out of a total of 653 employees above 45 age, 97% got vaccinated for the first dose of Covid.
Sanitization of the Factory and Office premises: We have undertaken various safety measures to ensure our premises are safe. Extensive and routine sanitization of various factory units and office premises are being conducted, all the vehicles entering the factory premise are completely sanitized. For sanitization of documents we have place ultraviolet disinfectant and microwave Ovens at various locations.
Touch free toilets, doors & water dispensers – To ensure touch-free operations we have installed 21 foot operated sanitizer mounts, 15 foot operated water dispensers, 6 foot operated wash basin and 4 sensor based wash basins. Apart from that we have also installed 18 foot operated door openers.
Awareness, Health monitoring and safety of employees: Given the alarming situation, we have undertaken all possible precautions to ensure the safety of employees. Monitoring the body temperature of all employees and conducting random testing of SPO2 levels on a daily basis has been done. At our Dispensary we have undertaken 154 Rapid Antigen Tests for suspected cases. Our team of in house Doctors, are providing online medical consultancy to the employees. 73 frontline employees have been provided with face shields and masks. Also eligible employees have been allowed to work from home. Out of 850 employees working in Hapur 4.7 percent of employees are working from home. We have also created 4 quarantine centres for suspected and confirmed cases to monitor their symptoms and providing medication and supplements. Apart from that immunity booster Kadha is served on an average 150 employees daily at Hapur. Till date we have conducted around 12 webinars on various topic to create awareness about health issues and corona.
Shri Prem Chand Lohia Health Centre’ (SPCLHC) – Caring for lives
Health care facilities such as, OPD services, Treatment of TB Patients and Ayurvedic treatment to local people are provided through ‘Shri Prem Chand Lohia Health Centre’ (SPCLHC). Seeing the prevalence of TB cases in Hapur, Merino Group through SPCLHC has joined hands with the Dept. of Tuberculosis, Govt. of India, to eradicate TB. Currently the centre is providing TB treatment in about 42 villages of Hapur District, in Uttar Pradesh. SPCLHC also provides medical facilities to the needy patients in and around Hapur through mobile vans manned by qualified doctors. During the year 377 such trips were undertaken to provide medical services to the needy patients.
The health centre has four dispensaries with doctors and supporting medical staff to provide general OPD for patients and for treatment of TB in particular. Due to the lockdown only the dispensary located at our Factory in Achheja was operational for 307 days and the other located at Kasturi Bai Cold Storage (KBCS) remained open for 67 days. During the period 1283 out patients were treated and 15856 units of medicines were distributed. During the period 204 TB Patients were treated and 377 follow-up TB patients were taken care of. Through our allopathic treatment 219 patients got benefitted out of which 110 were the repeat patients.
Mask Ek Muskan Anek – Empowering Women
Mask has become a synonym to safety. To utilise the opportunity of shortage of masks and to help our student’s families gain economic independence, we identified families interested in mask making. Initial training, standardised processes, and the raw materials were arranged to start production at their respective homes. The masks were charged at a subsidised rate of Rs.10 per pair against a cost of Rs.10.26 per mask. Out of Rs.10.00 charged, Rs.7.00 went directly to the women and Rs.3.00 against material and other costs. Within two months we could increase the production of masks from 100 to 1200 a day. The project was named, “Mask Ek Muskan Anek” (Mask One Smile Many). This initiative brought smiles in the faces 27 families by helping their women to earn on an average Rs.27700/- during the lockdown. A total of 1,30,000 masks produced during the period which gave our student’s families financial stability and boosted their self-confidence.
Skilling women: Helping people to develop certain skills can enable them to earn or contribute to their family. Keeping this in mind Merino Group through HKMT have been running a stitching centre for females since September 2017. A total of 7 batches have been completed till date benefitting 90 students. Currently two teachers are imparting training to 16 girls and the duration of the course is for 4 months.
Sankat Mochan Abhiyaan – Phase-II
Crash Course for Volunteers on Home Care for Covid Patients Exclusively under guidance of Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP): The country is witnessing an unexpected surge in Covid19 infections which has lead to a near collapse of the entire Health Care System. Thus to support the district administration, Merino Group has initiated Sankat Mochan Phase-II, to train and engage young volunteers to support Covid patients at their home. HKMT in association with Vinod Gupta Charitable Foundation, has started a 4- week Crash Course from May 10, 2021, to train first batch 20 volunteers (10 Girls + 10 Boys) on Covid Care at Home, under the exclusive guidance of a RMP. The faculties from Hillary Clinton Nursing School functioning under the auspice of Vinod Gupta Charitable Foundation has been conducting the online Classes for 3 hours every day, followed by practical orientation of the volunteers by in-house medical team of Merino Group.
Setting up Oxygen Plant at District Government Hospital, Hapur: Seeing the growing need and the scarcity of Oxygen supply, Merino has extended its helping hand to the local Government. It is now in the process of setting up a PSA Medical Oxygen Plant at the Government District Hospital, Hapur, that would cater to 100 patients per day and expected to be commissioned by the end of May 2021. The plant has a capacity of producing 30 Nm3 / hour, with an Oxygen purity of 93% – 95%.
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