ACTIVITIES Mahila Shakti Kendra is a Federation of over 100 SHGs spread out in 33 villages in Balipara Block of Sonitpur District. Mahila Shakti Kendra, popularly known as “MASK” was established in the year 2002. On 01 April 2002, 25 SHGs came together and formed themselves into a Federation in view of their sustainability after they would be soon weaned away from Gana Chetana Samaj, the organization that promoted them. Socio-economic empowerment of women of Balipara Block was the main objective of MASK.MASK has been working for the socio-economic development of the marginalized and poor with special emphasis on women’s empowerment since its registration in the year 2006. MASK implements the following activities. Capacity Building Programmes for SHGs, Farmer’s Clubs and Youth Training Programmes are conducted on Team Building, Cooperation , Leadership and other topics for Presidents & Secretaries of SHGs, members of SHGs and Farmer’s Clubs and for the youth, (especially for girls),to build their capacity. In addition, youth are also given an opportunity for learning basic computer skills and spoken English. Training programmes are also conducted on financial management of livelihood income generating programmes undertaken by SHGs, Farmer’s Clubs and individuals. Alternative Livelihood Opportunities : Training is provided to SHGs,Farmer’s Clubs and villagers on various income generating activities like, weaving, animal husbandry (especially pig rearing), mushroom cultivation, food processing (making of fruit juices, jams, pickles), making detergent etc., to provide alternative livelihood opportunities to the poor. Financial support in the form of loans is also provided to begin the livelihood income generating programmes and training is imparted in accounting and financial management of the programmes. Sustainable Agriculture : Sustainable Agriculture is taken up with the objective of providing poor farmers with sustainable alternative livelihood enhancement opportunities. Training is imparted to Farmers in organic farming, multiple cropping patterns, horticulture, kitchen garden, synchronization of medicinal plants in kitchen gardening, spice cultivation, production of quality planting material, pest and disease management of crops, bio-fertilizer, vermin compost, etc. Village Development Programmes (VDP) : Under the VDP a PRA (Participatory Rural Appraisal) of the village is done. The VDP involves the following activities : Sensitization workshops for villagers, to sensitise them on various government schemes and Bank linkages programmes like the Kisan Credit Card (KCC); Farmer’s Clubs are promoted, a village water management committee is formed, farmers are trained on agriculture demonstration plots etc. Health and Hygiene : Training programmes are conducted for women on preventive and curative health care and women are trained in home remedies for common ailments. Training is also given in preparing herbal medicines from locally available medicinal plants. Kishori Melas are held for girls to make them aware of problems related to health of women and the female reproductive system. Rallies on Social Issues MASK organizes rallies on social issues especially on women’s rights and violence against women and issues of exploitation and oppression. MASK also joins in rallies organized by other women’s NGOs in the District. Arbitration among Villagers in Case of Disputes : Social issues and disputes among villages are settled by the SHGs of the village through their Federation, in a peaceful and amicable manner, through the Federation’s “Women’s Court” without having to go to the police or the court. Training of Trainer’s (TOT) Programmes : Secretary Eliza Boro & Popi Marak of MASK, evaluating Participants of Meghalaya Rural Dev. Soc. (MRDS), after 15 Days TOT Prog. Training of Trainer’s Programmes(TOT) on promotion and nurturing of SHGs, are conducted for personnel of NGOs, at the request of NABARD, NGOs,and Governments of various States, of North East, especially Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh. The duration of these trainings range from 3 to 15 days. Besides TOT Progs. on SHGs., MASK also conducts Training Progs. on Leadership Training, Team Building and Cooperation, through various games and Training on alternative livelihood opportunities, like Food Processing, making detergent etc, for personnel of NGOs. Exposure Programmes to MASK : MASK also organizes one to three days Exposure Programmes for personnel of NGOs, for an exposure to the organization and functioning of the Federation of MASK and the SHGs supervised and monitored by MASK.