ABRAHAM DENNYSON launched and helps run Bihar Cluster in India. In this interview he speaks about the unique needs of this region, and how the Cluster is working to respond to them.
Tell us about Bihar. It’s one of India’s 29 states. It has a population of over 100 million, and close to 90% of these people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture. It borders Nepal to the north. 70% of the land in northern Bihar is prone to annual floods because of the rivers flowing from the Himalayas. While the southern region is prone to annual drought. The lack of livelihood opportunities and access to government services lead to seasonal migration of families or able-bodied men in seek of work to rich cities or states. Bihar ranks last among states in its governance index, indicating her social and economic in equities. And the dropout rate of children in school is high and police sources point out at least 4000 children are trafficked every month from here. It’s in this context that our Cluster wants to make a difference to the lives of people here. Tell us about your own work. I helped set up a community health project and worked in rehabilitating children rescued from child labour. Currently I provide technical support to community organisations and also seek to help young entrepreneurs in Bihar district. How did you become involved in this work? I was an engineer when I first set up a community health project, and so I’ve mostly learnt through doing and self-learning. During this work we realised that 50% of the children in Bihar are malnourished, and this made me keen to do a formal study on nutrition, and with support from Arukah Network I've now completed a postgraduate qualification in Public Health Nutrition. How did you hear about the idea of a Cluster? I heard about it through friends and colleagues who talked about the Uttrakhand Cluster. I heard how they came together to share their learning and resources. It placed a desire in my heart to see a similar Cluster in Bihar. So I was inspired by Uttarakhand Cluster, but I was also inspired by Arukah Network’s leadership of Ted and Elizabeth. How did you go about setting up the Bihar Cluster? Initially I visited and talked with local leaders in Bihar who I knew would understand the benefit of having such a forum. Accessible healthcare is a rare commodity in Bihar, and the government was proposing stricter clinical establishment act 2013 which would affect the functioning of committed health care service providers but short on resources. This also brought us together. Yours is a young Cluster – what’s your proudest achievement so far? I’m proud that we’ve been able to come together for prayer from across the Christian faith spectrum – it’s probably the first time this has happened in Bihar. What are your hopes for the future of the Cluster? I hope that our collective voice and work makes a difference in making health accessible to all. What do you like to do to relax? Music helps, but increasingly cooking helps too. I cook for my family – you can try new dishes only on them! Thanks for your dedication to the Cluster, Dennyson!
Learn more about the Bihar Cluster here.