THE KAWARDHA BAIGA TRIBAL TRUST
The Baiga Tribals of Madhya Pradesh are the indigenous people who have lived in the forested areas of districts Mandla Balaghat Bilaspur and Rajnandgaon since time immemorial. It is said that the very first Baiga was born from the womb of Mother on the Hill of Elephants and he was named Nanga Baiga. Since then they have always been referred to as 'Sons and Daughters of Mother Earth'.
1. Establishment of a Mobile Health Unit (currently organised from a jeep) to be staffed by health workers and doctors which would travel to the heart of the remoter areas at least once a week. Advance notice would be given of intended visits so that all who may need attention in the vicinity could make their way to the specified village. This would assist the Baigas with health issues that they often ignore through fear and superstition.
2. Health education to be carried out by the unit. This would stress among other things the importance of water purification and safe storage prior to consumption; of clean and dry areas in and around homes to minimise the risks of malaria; and of child and adult education. It would teach basic knowledge of how to cleanse and dress wounds and administer pain killers and when to seek medical assistance.
3. Preservation of Baiga lore. The Baigas need help to preserve and document their knowledge of the jungle trees and shrubs and their healing qualities. Their understanding of the behaviour of the birds animals insects and reptiles in their domain must be passed on to future generations. Documentation is also required to keep alive their ancient ways of nature worship their language attire songs dances and former gentle life-style. We wish to re-develop their skills of farming the products of the jungles without harming the balance of nature such as LAC collection BEE KEEPING and HONEY PRODUCTION SILK WORM farming and SILK weaving CHICKEN and PIG farming (the natural way) and BASKET weaving.
4. Development of traditional arts and crafts. We will seek assistance from institutes such as The Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and DASTKAR to encourage and expand their arts and crafts skills. When quality merchandise is forthcoming we will help them to form societies within their own communities. This will add a new dimension to their earning powers and allow art forms that have been handed down for thousands of years to give pleasure to people in far off lands.
5. Preservation of the jungles and wildlife. We feel that with their close association with the forests of our area of Madhya Pradesh. which they love being a part of the Baiga Tribals could become the natural guardians of the jungles and of the flora and fauna therein. We have spent four years discussing their sadness at watching their shelter from the extremes of weather slowly disappearing sometimes overnight. and the changing energies within their jungles. We have also taken them to places where concerted efforts are being made to ensure tall and green mantles remain in protected areas. They are now willing to start actively protecting our areas from total deforestation. The dwindling of wildlife is also of concern to many of the Baigas. They believe that as long as the jungles and forests are preserved there will be places for wild animals to take refuge against man's destructive nature.
6. Kitchen gardens to grow healthy vegetable and herb crops throughout the area should be established for each Tola (household) adjoined by small copses of fast growing trees to supply fire wood. This would replace the need to search the jungles for wood and set an example for people from the already denuded plains. We are in desperate need of funds for customising a vehicle for a mobile health unit medical supplies educational aids food and water containers warm cloth for making Baiga-style clothing and remuneration for health workers Therefore all donations will be most gratefully accepted. We will acknowledge them by a registered receipt and open our accounts for donors to audit our expenditure. We want to make a small repayment to the Baigas for their contribution towards the clean and unpolluted air we can still breathe and for allowing us to watch and respect diverse species of nature's perfect on roaming their jungles in peace.
However modern "progress" moves far too quickly even for the initiated so we are approaching institutions societies corporations and individuals for practical assistance to ensure that there will always be Baigas living in our jungles protected by the assurance that their way of life will be respected and not destroyed. With the help of those with knowledge of medicine agriculture and saleable art forms and of individuals who share our concern for these pure and special people may we strive to succeed in our goal to preserve the natural ways of the Baiga Tribals and to cherish them always as our neighbours in the jungles of Kawardha Tahsil.