Chetana-Vikas (Consciousness-Development)

VISION : Empowerment of the individual and of the community for sustainable development of their own respective lives. GOAL : Sustainable development towards : Improved production. Better distribution. Production priority of basic needs like food & nutrition, fuel, fodder, timber etc. Protection & enrichment of the earth's environment & natural resources. Recognition of the key role of women in agriculture & improvement on gender issues. More self-reliant, sustainable, biological and decentralized technology. FOUNDING PRINCIPLES : - Critical consciousness and awareness of people (Chetana); and Development (Vikas) : A two way integrated approach. - Efforts ...
Feb 4, 2013

HOLDING HANDS

Holding hands 1
Holding hands 1

“2, 5, 7, 10, or 20 years” are the type of figures we hear from the women – the time of their widowhood, the times when they have been totally alone and desolate in the world, sometimes with very small children.
The times when the other family members suddenly start seeing them as burden, the times when they also notice a glint in unknown men’s eyes. These are also the times when the sudden passing away of the earning member makes them realize that they do not possess any monetary skills to earn a decent livelihood on their own. These are the times when, in many cases, the children drop out of school to help bring in some money, by working in fields or doing some odd job. There might be few helping hands, but many derisive gestures.

Actually, the policy making bodies HAVE thought of this situation, and a government scheme is in existence to help such women. Even if small, the government gives help of Rs.600/month (approximately US $ 11) to a widow/deserted woman and if with children, an additional help of Rs.250 (US $ 5) /child / month to her.
A death by accident also entitles her to an immediate compensation of Rs.10,000/- (about US $ 188).

Apart from a few, 90% of the women did not know that such a scheme exists. None of the village governing bodies makes an active effort to inform the women about their rights. When the committee formed by Chetana-Vikas went into the thick of the problem, they also found that the women were unaware and ill equipped to gather supportive documents required, which are at least 8 in number, like the photo ID card, proof of residence, proof of husband’s death, proof of low income, etc….. Getting each of this individual document from the government agencies is by itself an uphill task….. expensive too !
Moreover, whenever some aware women have filed applications, they are harassed by village body officials by deliberate delaying tactics, asking for favors in lieu of sanctioning their names and in general, just-forgetting about the women. Widespread and unchecked corruption forces the women to stop trying to get even this meager amount, which is rightfully for them and their children.

A six member women committee trained by Chetana-Vikas, working in villages north of Wardha district – goes into all the above problems. They approached the women, help them with information, with methodology, sometimes accompany them to tackle corrupt officials, sometimes even search out the application forms buried in the files of officials.

There have been times when these committee women have directed the officials about the appropriate methodologies to be followed. They also try to ensure the receipt of the right amount and at the promised time. These committee women, through last year, have already filed 143 new cases and also revived a few old and stagnated cases from six villages. Some women have started getting their money after completing the due formalities.

This year we will also bring you stories of struggle of these brave committee-women who just want to help their sisters stand on their own feet and avail their rights for better livelihood.

We again appeal you to strengthen their hands and continue to spread the message among family members and friends. Ask them to visit http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empower-deserted-women-and-widows-in-rural-india/.

Also visit the Global Giving page to see in how many different ways you can help. Any upcoming event like a birthday, anniversaries, marriage functions can be made use of to start a new trend.

Let us make it an eventful and meaningful 2013 for the women we are working for.

Thank you !

Best Regards,

Niranjana
Project Leader

Holding hands 2
Holding hands 2
Holding hands 3
Holding hands 3
Holding hands 4
Holding hands 4
Holding hands 5
Holding hands 5
Nov 8, 2012

FACING CHALLENGES 24 x 7 !

Archana at her sewing machine
Archana at her sewing machine

FACING  CHALLENGES   24 x 7   !

As a young bride ……

Filled with dreams and enthusiasm for future, a young Archana entered into married life with Vijay. What she did not know, was that, she was slyly being deceived into a partnership which would bring only misery and pain.  Her in-laws suppressed the fact that her husband was terminally ill.  It was after some months into marriage that she came to know about it.

Bristling with silent anger, she decided to face life in whatever constructive way as possible.  She helped her husband in illness, took him to hospital.  She had conceived already, gave birth to  a son, but decided not to have further issues.

When her husband died …..

“I had developed fondness for my husband and was still in shock at his demise. 
I was in for further shock when my in-laws asked me to hand over the child to them and leave.”

I said, “enough of injustice from these people.” 

“I fought with my in-laws and got to stay on after partitioning the house.”  

“I could do this because I was armed with information given at camps held by Chetana-Vikas about my legal rights, property rights.”

 “I had no money, I was doing odd jobs as an agriculture labourer and was living hand to mouth.”

“My friends, women members of our Self Help Group,  used to help me with small loans which were used up for every day living only.  Seeing my integrity and honesty, they then recommended my name for getting a loan of higher amount.”

“I have come to know that,  this was made possible because of your support”.

“I am happy to tell you that with this money I could set up a small shop at home.” 

“My villagers like many different type of things. So I decided to stock up an variety of things like stationery, sarees (an Indian attire), various cloth materials, inexpensive artificial jewelry etc. 
I even sold the miniature Indian Flag on our independence day.”

“I go to the fields at 10 am and come back at 6 pm.  There was still time on hand while waiting for customers. I decided to buy a sewing machine.”   

“Due to budget constraints, I bought a second hand machine within the same loan amount.  Now, on an average, I can stitch 2 cloth materials a day.  My son helps me in tending to customers when he is free.” 

“Now with some steady and extra income, slowly my life has started picking up. I can now start hoping for a future and also a decent education to my child.”

“ I will continue to fight for myself, my son & my house.”

Friends……

Archana  Mhaiskar is from village Pimpalgaon Lute.  In her life of 32 years, she is facing challenges 24 x 7.  Instead of moping over her sorrows, she is willing and eager to meet these challenges. 

Appropriate support whenever and wherever needed helps her to go ahead confidently.

We once again call out to continue helping women like Archana who are ready to meet such challenges, by providing opportunities.

The upcoming "Festival of Deepawali"  would be a good opportunity to spread the light.  Please tell your circle of friends and relatives about http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empower-deserted-women-and-widows-in-rural-india/

Thank you !

Warm  Regards  from  me  &  Archana

Niranjana

Project Leader

Archana
Archana's shop with various items
SHG friends examining mat. bought from loan amount
SHG friends examining mat. bought from loan amount
Archana preparing tea for her SHG friends
Archana preparing tea for her SHG friends
Archana her son tending to customers at night time
Archana her son tending to customers at night time
Aug 10, 2012

FROM "BARELY LIVING" TO "BEING ALIVE"

Kanta at her home. Leader of SHG in the background
Kanta at her home. Leader of SHG in the background

Hullo Friends,

10 August 2012 - Today rural women in India celebrate "Janmashtami" - a festival dedicated to cows in India.  It is an animal widely domesticated in rural areas and is believed to bring health and prosperity to the people in general.

So, it is a good day to share something with you about KANTA DAHAKE and her cow.

Living in a village of about 100 house holds, middle aged Kanta has studied up to 4th standard, owns land a bit above
1 hectare. 

How is she different ?

Kanta is not only a widow since some  years but has been deserted even by her grown up son and his wife.  Nobody has seen them since many years. 
Mostly, the couple did not want to shoulder her responsibility, reflecting the changing family values of the society.

What makes her different, again ?

So, her life dragged on, from one day to another....

Kanta is a member of the local Self-Help Group (SHG) and was till now taking small loans for agricultural purposes.  After her husband’s death, she made a resolution and used the loan amount to buy a cow.  That improved her situation
a bit.  She again demanded a loan to buy another cow.

With the support given by you all, Chetana-Vikas, and the other women of the SHG of her village decided to sanction her loan appeal since she had worked hard to return the earlier amount on time. Moreover, they noted that Kanta suffers from arthritis, and so she needed a business, which she could operate from home. 

She does not go to the fields because of her pain and so her field is mostly tended by the youngest son living with her.  Kanta is required to put in very hard, round the clock work to make things happen.

KANTA TODAY

The two cows today are yielding milk which on an average fetches her family Rs.4,800 per month (about USD 87). 
The milk is consumed locally, sometimes is processed and sold on festival days which adds to  her income.

The cows have given birth to male calves. 

The bulk of farm-yard manure, now available from these animals, has increased from 2 tractor-loads to ten and is valued at about at Rs.20,000/- which Kanta and her son prefer to apply to their fields.

Abundant farmyard manure has played a role in doubling the production from their field that is totally dependent on rains of four months.

The two bullock pairs have attracted nearby farmers and has a market offer of Rs.40,000/ for a pair.  But Kanta refused to sell the calves saying that “money comes and goes but the calves are my true wealth which will increase further”.

Kanta makes it a point to mention that “since you people are with me, I feel the presence of some heavenly powers with me which helped me sail through difficulties”.

KANTA FOR FUTURE

She plans the impending marriage of her son. 
This would also leave her some time to expand her business.

She says further, “I will try to bring in more women like me into our fold, so that they can also make their lives better”. 

As Kanta has mentioned, we at Chetana-Vikas also feel that there are many more Kantas that we have to reach. 

Your support ensures bringing back color to an otherwise life full of drudgery and subsistence.

Ensure your friends and relatives visit the page link –
http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empower-deserted-women-and-widows-in-rural-india/

You can also put up a widget on your Facebook page, Twitter to spread the information.

Bye for now.  We are off to a village were the women are celebrating the festival with lots of cows.  

Best regards,

Niranjana Maru
Project Leader

Kanta & her son with their "wealth"
Kanta & her son with their "wealth"
The milk ensures a steady, daily income for family
The milk ensures a steady, daily income for family
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