Prayasam: Area Health Minders (AHM), health for all

Kolkata, IndiaKolkata, India
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Focusing on preventive health, sanitation and hygiene, the “Area Health Minders” are changing the physical and social environment in which they live following the concept of “each one, teach one”.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

“What if” youth play dual role of “peer educator” and “community change maker” to change their surroundings?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The onus to provide basic health facilities is on government which often falls short of minimum.Lack of access to clean water,basic sanitation facilities,healthcare services,gender discrimination,lack of knowledge and information make situation worse for urban poor,creating new face of abject poverty.Prayasam’s AHM project addresses these issues,creating self­sustaining leadership in youth to bring “lifestyle” changes in communities.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

This unique model based on children’s right to participation and development, empowers youth with specific skills and technology who then sensitize their community through advocacy on preventive health and hygiene, sanitation, gender equality, education and livelihood. The youth act as “safety net” by forming groups and spreading awareness by means of alternative communication media-comics, puppetry, spot films,dance,theater. This not only helps them to be healthy but also positively impacts their economic condition and ensure change of attitude and behaviour. Youth become real advocates of their cause and approach local government for infrastructure needs and requirements.


Ashoka Innovators for the Public, Ford Fellowship, Revolutionary Optimists, a documentary on Prayasam's work headed by Stanford University
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Rishi Aurobindo Colony now has clean alleys and access to drinking water,was once a breeding ground of diseases, a garbage dumping zone transformed into a playground and a haven for anti-social activities,now a place for peaceful co-existence.Trainings are provided on lifeskill,health and hygiene,gender,rights and leadership orientation. Simultaneously they do community‐mapping,planning and advocacy, using smart phones making film on sanitation and gender-related spot films,creates community awareness.Youth coordinate with different stakeholders to plan and implement solutions.The “community map” has been uploaded to Google Earth using mobile technology in partnership with Earth Institute of Columbia University and Map Your World website.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

• Revolutionary Optimists,a documentary by Stanford University,captures Area Health Minders’ process of work • Visual Basics, first grassroot film studio,in partnership with Adobe Foundation using films as advocacy tools • Odk format has been used by youth for collecting data on immunization • There is radical shift in community people’s thinking-wider acceptance of youth as changemakers • Gender disparity is decreasing-60%girl participation • 70%reduction in early marriage • Vaccination rate has increased from 40% to 90%,hence infant mortality rate has decreased and Child Health has improved. More innovative solutions,partnerships and dialogue around child rights,health, gender,sanitation and development have been initiated.Local government and community people continue to shift their attitudes towards youth,be more responsive and accept them in development process.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Idea of Area Health Minders is the “withdrawal strategy” of Prayasam-to make youth self sustaining so that they take leadership and onus of their community.The group will be officially registered under national law so that they can operate as “satellite grassroot NGO” of Prayasam,functioning from community itself.6 more areas will be directly served by the project through peer educators,appointed as Project Associate in Prayasam.Current training programs will be scaled up to develop “second line leadership” through peer-to-peer learning and seeking active adult participation in team’s work.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Each member of group contribute one rupee per day which is used in community mobilization work. Besides maximum resources are provided in mentorship so youth can feel they are mutually benefitting from project.Strengthening parents’ investment by increasing homevisit,survey and using various media.We are working with local authorities’ to combat their perception about NGO exploiting poverty, to show that work is defined and created by youth.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Project’s core concept of developing children as leaders in their communities, skilled in diverse alternative communication tools and film making for creating awareness and its subsequent impact on the target population in diverse urban areas been recognized as effective and exemplary. Our work on improving community mapping through our Map Your World technology and our partnership with the Earth Institute at Columbia University, has proved a very innovative, simple and replicable model that other youth across the world have implemented.

Founding Story

Working with Lutheran World Service(I), Amlan Ganguly,founder of the concept,realized many children absenting school and LWS(I) programs.During home visit he found them suffering from diarrhea and malaria,dependence on quacks to avoid medicinal cost and complete lack of preventive healthcare.He decided to collect information on health related issues.The result was startling-each family spent heavily on treating illness that could be prevented through simple measures.With few friends he started Prayasam,a registered NGO,with vision to make ‘health for all’ a reality while ensuring children’s right to participation and demonstrating their social mobilization skills.


Using 18 years of experience in project management, we will have a comprehensive team consisting of 12members for 6communities of this project. • 1 Project Coordinator responsible for managing the development of the work and evaluation plan with volunteers, staff and community members, planning the sustainability of the programs, and building partnerships with key stakeholders. • 6 Field Coordinators work intimately with the children and community, implementing activities and trainings, do home visits to work on the children’s progress and family relationships, collect and evaluate data. • 1 Accountant whose sole focus will be the financial administration of this project. • 1 Documenter for documenting the entire process of work, data compilation and monitoring and evaluation • 2 Public Relations coordinator who builds partnership with different stakeholders and organizations • 1 Social Media coordinator who is responsible for publicity and training in different media such as video, photography, film making, photoshop and the related The educational qualification of all the members of the project is Higher Secondary (minimum) presently pursuing Graduation. 4 of the members are working as full timer while the rest are working as group members. Presently 9members are directly working on the project-project coordinator, field coordinator, documenter, accountant, public relation and social media
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Ashoka Changemakers

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

I, Sikha Patra, the equivalent of the project, is working as Project Associate in Prayasam.

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Gender Equality, Clean Water and Sanitation.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Ontrack, Grassroot Human Management Institute- Ontrack is a HR management and leadership program aimed at developing business, industrial and personal skills of community youth. Ontrack will not only prepare the youth for getting jobs but will also equip them with the necessary social skills necessary for mainstreaming in society and career growth. Ontrack is catering to 1000members, who are getting worldwide recognition. Salim Shekh and Sikha Patra, two senior most members of Ontrack and peer educators, have been keynote speakers at Tedx, Skoll World Forum, Oxford, Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi and were principal characters in Revolutionary Optimist, a documentary by Stanford University.
Another participant Manish has visited S. Africa as a peer educator to train community youth alongwith two teamates , organized by Slum Development International.

Visual Basics, Grassroot Film Studio-This initiative, supported by Adobe Foundation, first in Asia, provides a platform to the amateur film makers to further develop their skill and knowledge and use film as a tool of mobilization and advocacy. The members very recently have developed a spot film on immunization of diarrhea and pneumonia in collaboration with Global Health Strategies for sensitiszation of stakeholders at the national and state level.. Besides, the members have developed spot films on various social cross-cutting issues which have been premiered at Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, a national institute that offers post graduate studies in cinematic studies, and have been taken up by Cine Central Kolkata, the largest film society in India, films were screened at the “International Children’s Film Festival” in Kolkata and at the “International Children’s Film Festival” inMumbai next year as well as Kishalaya Boys Home, a government correction home and in different government aided schools. The screening of these in the community has raised awareness and sensitized the community people on the social issues that they often tend to either succumb to or be ignorant of.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

The founder of the project is the chief mentor together with team of 4others who are mentoring on field management, finance, public relations and social media. The members of the Area Health Minders team are working as partners in the 6communities. Additionally we also have volunteers and interns that receive training in various skills and data collection. We have volunteers from Symbiosis University conduct classes on media skills, interns from Indian Institue of Management (IIM) Joka to orient on pitching and presentation skills, volunteers from Columbia and Stanford University teach best practices on data collection and evaluation and global volunteers from IBM to share knowledge on organization development and branding.

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