ARMY WIVES WELFARE ASSOCIATION


1.  AWWA is the acronym for Army Wives Welfare Association. As the association works for the welfare of the spouses, children and dependents of the Army personnel, it is aptly referred as the invisiblehands that shape the punch of the Indian Army. The association has been officially registered as a Welfare Society with the Registrar of Societies, Delhi Administration on 23 August 1966; the day being celebrated as AWWA Day.  It is one of the largest voluntary organizationsin India that has charted its course for fulfilling the societal obligation through social empowerment and skill building of spouses and dependents of Army personnel since inception. AWWA aims at the holistic development and well-being of Army Wives including their children and rehabilitation of war widows and differently-abled children.
    
Aim

2.  The aim of the Army Wives Welfare Association is to support and enhance the official welfare efforts within the Indian Army, focusing especially on the welfare of families, children and widows of all ranks including retired personnel of the Army. It also take active part in the activities of Central and State Governments in their efforts towards national re-construction aimed at improving the living conditions of rural poor amongst the above categories of persons and protecting the human rights violation against the Army personnel and their families.

Objectives

3. The objectives of AWWA are as under:-    

(a)  Empowerment of beneficiaries through vocational and structured training to enable them to become self reliant.

(b)  Rehabilitation of war widows, widows and battle causalities.

(c)  Empowerment and rehabilitation of differently-abled children of Army personnel.

(d)  Reaching out to widows of Ex-Servicemen and rehabilitate them as per their qualification.

(e)  Encourage, assist and establish suitable handicraft projects and interface these with other bodies in the handicraft sector to enable individual entrepreneurship, self-help groups and cooperatives to achieve the aim of Socio-Economic Empowerment.

(f)  Protecting Army personnel and their dependentsagainst human rights violations.

(g)  Organise counseling for amicable and logical conclusion of marital disharmony cases.

(h)  Assist Army wives including war widows in receiving their legitimate dues in terms of financial grants, allowances and other benefits from Army, Central and State Government.

(j)  Award of scholarship to meritorious and financial assistance for needy children of widows of ex-servicemen.

(k)  Promote family health and hygiene including mother and child care.

(l)  Welfare of patients in Hospitals.

4.  AWWA has been at the forefront for fulfilling its onerous tasks set for it self. Some of the core areas of welfare and social-economic empowerment are given in the succeeding paras.

5.  Vocational Training. AWWA is working for social enrichment, confidence building, environmental and health awareness of the wives of the serving as well as retired Army Personnel. Toward this end, Vocational Training Centres running at various Military Stations are imparting training on Nursery Teacher Training, Computer Education, Language skills, Driving skills, Candle making, Paper Bag Making, Stitching, Health and Beauty care courses, home based agro initiatives (Bee Keeping & Mushroom Culture)  and various other handicraft items.

6.  Empowerment of War Widows. One of the core focus area of AWWA is the care for the widows of the martyrs. It has instituted Brave Hearts Empowerment Project for this purpose. AWWA provides emotional support and financial succor to its brave heart widows and is constantly working for the social and economic empowerment of this section. For socio-economic empowerment of this section, many micro ventures like Project Aahwan, Parisharm Cell, Lunch Projects, Paper Recycling plant etc have been initiated.

7. Care and Share. AWWA also works for providing emotional support to the Army personnel and their dependents through Patient Care Cell, Cancer Support Group, Astha Marital Counseling Centres and so forth.There are 38ASHA Schools managed under the aegis of AWWA, providing education, rehabilitation training and support to the Differently Abled Children.

8. Training the Trainer. Another core focus for AWWA is Early Child Care & Education (ECCE) and Nursery Teacher Training (NTT) Courses. There are around 250 Preprimary Schools, which are being run in different Army Stations to provide best of quality education to approximately 35,000 children of army personnel. Realising the importance of trained teachers, AWWA in collaboration with National Council of Education Training and Research (NCERT), State Education Boards and Open Universities like Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has initiated conduct of ECCE and NTT Courses in different Military Stations.  AWWA has also trained more than 1800 teachers of the preschools in various military stations with the help of faculty and academic guidance of NCERT.

9. Financial Grants. AWWA provides ex-gratia to the family of the deceased soldier, educational scholarship to the children of widows of ex-servicemen and distress grants during both natural calamities and economic penury. The details of grants are given under:-

(a) Ex-Gratia Grant. A onetime grant of Rs 15000/- is being given as a token of immediate financial relief from AWWA to the next of kin of all ranks of the Army who die in harness. This amount is supposed to be given by the unit/formation/institution/establishment immediately on demise of a soldier and reimbursed by AWWA subsequently.

(b) Disaster Relief Fund. AWWA also supports Nation Building efforts during disaster relief. Funds through corpus and by synergizing with various Non Government Organisations and Government bodies are provided for relief and rehabilitation of affected areas. Meritorious cases are also     considered for individual relief, at the discretion of Executive Management Committee and the approval of President AWWA.

(c) Education Scholarship. The following categories of student are supported by AWWA:-

(i) All ladies widowed after the retirement of their husbands are eligible for educational scholarship grant at the rate of Rs 8000/- for the first child and Rs 6000/- for the second child.

(ii) The above rates of scholarship will also apply to differently abled children of ladies widowed after retirement of their husbands, who are pursuing secondary/higher secondary/technical professional education.

(iii) Scholarship for children of disabled soldiers invalided out     of service on medical grounds without pension at the rate of Rs 8000/- for first child and Rs 6000/- for second child per year.

(iv) Technical education grant to the children of widows and invalided disabled soldiers not drawing pension and pursuing technical education to a maximum of Rs 30,000/- for the first child and Rs 20,000/- for second child. The tuition fee in such cases upto a maximum of Rs 30,000/- and Rs 20,000/- will be fully reimbursed from the technical education fund.

(d) Financial assistance towards marriage grant to widows/dependants/orphaned children who are in financial distress.

(e) Disability Grant of Rs 5000/- to all disabled personnel boarded out medically, when such disability is attributable to military service  in field, high altitude and counter insurgency/counter terrorist areas.
(f) Financial grant of Rs 6000/- for purchase of sewing machine to the wives of personnel invalided out form service with 100% disability.

10. AWWA Website. Website www.awwa.in was launched in Apr 2005 and is regularly updated with news of happenings in AWWA throughout the country. There is also a mail facility, which is directly accessible by President AWWA if any one wishes to share thoughts and communicate with her. Any AWWA beneficiary can submit her grievances through this website in the form of petitions.

11. Projects by AWWA. Various Projects by AWWA have been launched in various military stations and they over a period of time have become self sustaining. Projects of AWWA are covered in succeeding paragraphs :-

(a) Aahwan. Aahwan is one such project for candle making and handicrafts which has been set up in Delhi to demonstrate equity for all AWWA members, whether they are Veer Naris, differently abled or our other members. Similarly there are many other projects like Jeevan Jyoti, Nirali, Sharamidhi, Parishram, AWWA Lunch Project and Saree making which have come up at various regional AWWAs with the same approach.  

(b) Asha Schools. AWWA helps and supports in functioning of 38 ASHA schools for the differently abled children.  This pioneering effort was started in 1991.  Every year, the ASHA school children make paintings on various themes; these are then selected and printed as greeting cards.   The proceeds from the sale of these cards are utilised for the education and better management of ASHA schools.   There is a conscious realisation that the mother of all educational efforts is the integration of these children in the normal walk of life and making them economically self-reliant, so that they can lead a dignified life.  

(c) Asha Pre Vocational Training Centre. Asha Pre Vocational Training Centre, Delhi Cantt is a venture aimed at rehabilitating the differently abled children of our society.   It is a sequel of ASHA Schools that supports students with statements of special educational and vocational needs.  It was established in September 2009.  It prepares Asha school children who are closing on to 18 yrs of age, for further employment. AWWA has collaborated with DTDC and Café Coffee Day where our differently abled children are gainfully employed. Similar initiatives are being undertaken with corporate houses to employ differently abled children. AWWA has employed number of these children in its outlets.

(d) Veer Nari Committee. To care for the widow of the Army personnel is a core focus of AWWA. It has instituted ‘Veer Nari Committee’ for this purpose.  AWWA does not merely recognise society’s debt to the brave soldiers who have made the supreme sacrifice of their lives in the service of our country but also pledges that the irreparable loss for the families will not leave them isolated.    Conscious efforts have been taken to ameliorate the sufferings of the bereaved families. We have periodic interaction with such families.  To make this interface meaningful AWWA helplines are being established at various stations.

 
(e) Vocational Training Centres (VTCs). AWWA is empathic in this concern for the welfare and empowerment of its members.   This translates into individual skill building through various courses run at the vocational training centres ranging from computer education, stitching, cooking and baking, language classes and knowledge training in maternal health care, first aid, pre and post natal child care, inoculation and so forth. There is a concerted effort to establish Vocational Training Centres at various stations and also to sell their products through AWWA outlets like Sajni and Pallavi.

(f) AWWA Hostels. AWWA Hostel provides secure residential hostels in metropolitan cities for boys and girls to pursue higher education.   AWWA makes contributions for the construction of hostels whenever required. There are 46 boys hostels and 10 girls hostels providing facilities of security, home made food, transport, recreational activities  like gymnasium, internet, library, etc. to the hostel wards. ‘Home Away from Home’ is the motto of these hostels.

(g) Prerna. Prerna is an important Cancer Support Group initiative with respect to patient welfare at Army Hospital (R&R) which is giving a valuable emotional support and guidance to cancer patients. All efforts are to help the students suffering from cancer by sensitising the schools to their needs and help them cope with lost studies.

(h) AWWA Environment Committee. As part of Environmental awareness campaign, AWWA has setup and Environmental Committee to supplement the station efforts in creating a pure and healthy environment and also inculcate healthy environmental practices of segregating wastes into biodegradable and non-biodegradable categories, prevention of wastage of water and encouraging use of cloth and paper bags instead of plastic ones.   It also endeavours to sensitise the woman and children to join in this clean and green environmental drive.
 
12. AWWA Award of Excellence. Army Wives Welfare Association annually announces AWWA Award of Excellence.    This award has been instituted to recognise the exemplary efforts of its members who have contributed in a positive manner voluntarily and made a significant value addition in their given field of work or have proactively worked for amelioration of problems of the members and beneficiaries. This award will serve as a motivation and a matter of pride for the recipients. It aims to encourage initiative, creativity, community and social service and pride in its member population. Similar award has been instituted to recognise the excellence of children.

13. Conclusion. AWWA is an well established NGO because of the indomitable spirit of the army wives. It enables the young girl married to the Army to change into a confident, capable woman who cannot only hold her own in different situations but also stand up for those who need help in the organisation and society. AWWA strongly believes that ‘Woman’, are a vast reservoir of innate potential. The women of today have vision, confidence, character and strength. AWWA stands tall as a symbol of ‘Women Empowerment’. The spirit of AWWA enshrined in its motto of Asha, Vishwas and Aastha(Hope, Belief and Faith) and this will make a positive difference to our society.