What does providing an alternative source of livelihood to a woman actually achieve? Is it just a source of income? Indus Earth Trust works with the vision of “Development with Dignity” with the firm belief it can be a starting point of overall improvement in a community. The three stories mentioned in this month’s global giving report show how three women in Indus Earth Trust’s Livelihood development programme has the potential to bring about a forward looking change in a community.
Asset: Cow worth USD 300
GulBibi - Grandmother supplementing husband's meagre income
Hameeda - Single mother bringing up 4 children
Noor Nisa - Married with 5 children supplementing husband's meagre income
Gul Bibi: An alternative source of livelihood eliminates the availability of an addictive substance
Who would have thought that a single productive asset- a cow would impact the lives of an entire village. The community of Shafi Mohammed Brohi village, located in the UC Gharo in Sindh Pakistan, suffered from a chronic problem. , More than 90% of the villagers were addicted to Ghutka (betel nut and slake lime concoction) – a cancer causing substance. This was mainly due to the easy availability of this highly addictive mouth cancer causing substance, which was sold by one of the village inmates, GulBibi. GulBibi’s husband was struggling to make ends meet. She tried to pitch in to the household income by selling small confectionery items from her house, including Ghutka, which was in demand.
One of the conditions of the transfer of the asset of the cow for GulBibi was the stopping the sale of this addictive substance. “I used to make Rs. 100-150, now my savings are 1000 to 1500 a month,” GulBibi informs us. She sells the milk from her cow to the local milk collectors for resale. Her need for additional income is now taken care of by the cow and therefore the Ghutka is no longer part of her entrepreneurial venture.
Hameeda: Restoring a Battered Mother’s Pride
In the same village, Hameeda, a single woman with 4 children declares that her life has changed since she acquired the asset of a cow. Hameeda got married young. He husband was a heroin addict. Her 4 children were born while suffering from constant abuse and hunger due to the fact that her husband did not work.
Her husband finally deserted her and she came to live with her father. Her father had to bear the additional burden of her family of 4 small children. With cow her life changed. “The cow had a small calf and gave birth to another one. I now have three cows. I sell the milk and give my children milk and Lassi (a local drink made from yougurt and milk) to drink.”
How has life changed for Hameeda? Dressed well, proud and full of life she tells me, she saves 1500-2000 per month. “My son works in a factory nearby and brings home an income.. It is not him I am worried about.He can look after himself.” She confides with pride. “I am educating my daughters and saving up for their marriage. I am no longer dependent on my father. I am my own master.”
Noor Nisa: Envisioning a better quality of life.
Her friend Noor Nisa has also benefitted from a cow. “My kids would have tea with out milk, now I can give my 5 children milk to drink.” Noor Nisa also saves 1500 to 2000 a month from her earnings. “We have a Village Organisation of Women in the Village. Hameeda is the president of the organization. All the women contribute Rs. 50 per month to the common pool.” I ask, “And what will you do with this money?”“Indus Earth Trust (IET) has given us solar lights and water pumps so now we have light in our house and in the village square. "We also have running water. We can save up for more development projects. Perhaps IET can build us our houses like they built the village school. We can use this money for our contribution to the development project,” the women inform us with pride. The difference is that now the women can be shapers of their own development directions, as well as contributors.
Grandmother Hema helping her grandchildren get an education
Beneficiary of-Stocking a Grocery Shop
Status: Married, supporting herself and her husband and her sending her son’s children - 2 boys and a girl to school.
Hema is a grandmother with dreams…..dreams to do for her grandchildren what she couldn’t for her own children. Her motivation for applying to LEEDP –Livelihood Enhancement and Entrepreneurship Development Programme of Indus Earth Trust (IET) for and acquiring the small grocery shop was to be able to send her son’s children to school. “ I want them to be educated and get a good job. Somewhere in Karachi or Hyderabad, maybe they can join the police…” she tells me with a twinkle in her eye as she dreams of a future for them her own son couldn’t have.
Hema and her husband belong to a small minority village in UC Gharo and have worked as laborers tending to the fields of the local landlord to make a living. Her son also works for the same landlord. However the present generation can try to lift themselves out of this cycle of low-paid labor by acquiring an education made possible by the savings from the grocery shop.
Showing us around her well-stocked shop, Hema tells us that her shop is doing well due to the fact that the nearest shop is a 3km distance from the village. “All the women are happy,” she tells us. What about the men? “I don’t stock any tobacco or cigarettes so they have to walk the 3km for that,” she reveals. Why is that, I ask? “Well there is a fine if you stock any such thing, the Village Organisation (VO) set up by IET keeps a strict check.” Hema underwent an intensive training conducted by IET to first teach the beneficiary the basics of entrepreneurship. “We were taught how to keep books, save and then reinvest. They told us saving is the only way out of our poverty. We have to fight poverty.”
Hema has made a start with her fight against poverty. She starts business at 8am and closes shop at 7pm. She is fighting poverty due to the assets transferred to her through the LEEDP Programme of IET, but there are many like her still out there waiting for a chance.
Sohni, will enter married life as an empowered partner
Status: Single, running a business, saving for her marriage, and sending her little brother to school.
Sohni is a young woman in search of a good match. Like other girls from Sindhi villages she wants to settle down with a husband. But here is the difference. She does not want to go into her married life as dependent partner. She is empowered and can bring a running business along with the marriage contract, a business owned and run by her.
Sohni applied for the LEEDP programme of IET and opted for a cow as an asset.Belonging to a family of 11 people -8 siblings and 2 parents, it was a tough existence. Sohni and her 4 sisters, and 4 brothers barely survived on their father’s meager income, he worked as a laborer. None of the children had any education and nor did they learn any skill. The brothers grew up to be laborers like their father and the daughters helped the mother in the housework and embroidered in their spare time, as do most women in the rural areas. The father has only been able to arrange for the marriage of one offspring as yet.
Sohni’s acquisition of the cow has been a transforming act in this house-hold as well as the village. It proves that women can be participants in income generation helping and supplementing the incomes of their fathers, brothers and husbands. But they can also be owners of their own assets.
Sohni is saving up for her marriage, acquiring assets, which will allow her father to find her a good match, as a marriage requires that a father offer some assets along with the girl. She sells 2 kgs of milk a day to the villagers and is also saving to expand her business to buy another cow. Sohni has also put her youngest brother aged 5 in school to get an education, something none of her older siblings have been able to do.
Does the father and brother have issues with a woman becoming empowered, as Sindh has a strong patriarchal system? “No I am happy she is making money and saving up for her marriage,” says the father. Do you share her earnings? “No she does not share her earnings with us, she keeps her savings like a true business woman, she want to expand her business,” says her father proudly. “She doesn’t give us any milk for free, not even to her sisters, and now they are also getting motivated to earn, as Sohni has done.”
Indus Earth Trust Pakistan (IET) has an ongoing program for “Livelihood Enhancement” through which it targets ultra poor households from marginalized communities in the coastal areas of Sindh, Pakistan. It provides assistance in kind to needy households classified as ultra poor through it poverty scorecard.
With the funds coming in from Global Giving, IET hopes to increase the number of households it can provide assistance in kind. The assistance in the form of physical assets can help women earn a livelihood and improve the welfare of their families. We hope to feature case studies of women which have been assisted through funds raised by Global Giving in our quarterly reports.
For this quarter, case studies showcase how two women have been able to focus on nutrition and education for their households through this program.
Case study: Dharmi,
Location: a village located in the Union Council of Gharo, Sindh, Pakistan
Assistance received: beneficiary of 3 goats
Status: Dharmi is married and helping support a family of 7. She lives with her husband and has 6 children -1 daughter and 5 sons.
Dharmi is an active and vocal woman belonging to the minority community of Hindus, living in a small and quaint village in UC Gharo. She is the proud recipient of 3 goats.
Dharmi’s community has always kept livestock, but the livestock has never been their own. In poor communities in Sind, livestock ownership and rearing for livelihood is on the basis of half-and-half partnership, between the provider of the livestock and the keeper of the livestock. This has meant that even though the keeper is looking after the livestock and feeding it, the profit from selling of the milk is shared on fifty-fifty basis. This also means that the provider also has an equal share in the off-spring of the livestock. This severely restricts the income that the poor can derive from the livestock and cuts their chances of increasing the herd in half as well.
After receiving the 3 goats for which she has full ownership, Dharmi’s children can have milk regularly. She is also diverting the money spent in buying milk towards educating 4 out of her 5 boys. When asked why she doesn’t sell milk, to the villagers she simply replies, that in such communities, it is a relationship of reciprocity, the villagers take the milk from her goats when they need it, and she takes something from them when she needs it. However she is waiting for her livestock to reproduce and then selling her goats for a profit.
Case study: Haseena
Location: a village in the Union Council of Dhabeji, Sindh, Pakistan
Assistance received: Beneficiary of stock of shoes for resale
Status: Married and helping support a family of 9. She lives with her husband and has 4 daughters and 3 sons.
Haseena lived a life of utter poverty, with children and family not having enough to eat, even going without food on some days. Her husband was a daily wage earner, but is now sick and unable to work. Haseena and her daughter had to take on the responsibility of earning and running the house by crocheting skullcaps and providing them to a retailer for resale. However they found it difficult to make ends meet. Her 2 elder daughters went to school till class 5 as education in government schools primary education is free. However as education class 6 onwards is paid for, the girls were unable to continue education.
When IET provided her with the opportunity of livelihood support, Haseena chose the option of stocking shoes to resell. This business allowed her to operate from her house. This was important for her specially, in view of her husband’s illness. She chose her own styles of shoes and was able to sell off the first stock successfully. She then stocked up on more shoes and expanded the goods for sale to include clothes for adults and children. She has now enrolled her 5 younger children in a school as well. The older girls help the mother in making crocheted skull caps and attending to the buyers who visit the shoe shop located within their house.
Haseena dreams of a better life, where she can expand her business to include other items, having enough to eat, getting a good education for the younger children and marrying the elder daughters in future. Her girls however dream of rejoining school and completing their education.
Indus Earth Trust Pakistan has an ongoing collaborative program with Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) for livelihood enhancement which targets the poor of society. IET wishes to expand the source of funding for further projects of this nature. In this program, IET works with the village organizations in undertaking socioeconomic household assessment through its poverty scorecard. The data gathered is used to identify the vulnerable and poor households in the communities. The beneficiaries are given training related to livelihood "Enterprise Development". Although funds gathered through GG became available to IET in late May 2014, however, IET has begun targeting new beneficiaries as a continuation of the project in early March 2014. Two case studies of beneficiaries have been provided below.
Yasmin is a widow with three children in the Allah Bachayo Village. She lives with her in laws and she is the sole income provider for her family. Through the “Ensure 100 Pakistani Women have a better life” project she has been given assistance in establishing a grocery shop with seed money of USD 190. Ever since her husband passed away 8 years ago she had been making ends meet by cutting crops for the local landlord, for which she got a daily wage. Now she has a shop from which she is earning enough money to support her family and send her children, a girl and 2 boys to school.
Yasmin opted for the grocery store as she realized its potential. The nearest grocery store was 45 minutes away and thus presented a business advantage. Yasmin is an enterprising woman who simply needed a push in the right direction. “Now the women and children can easily access the shop and buy whatever they needed conveniently” she explains. Yasmin is a respected and trusted woman and she knows how to cater to her client’s needs. “They want me to stock good quality rice now” she says laughingly, as she reveals that she is planning to use her savings of 20 rupees a day to expand the shop premises.
Shahjehan, who on the other hand, has been dependent on the unpredictable daily wages of her husband to run a household and support five children, has opted for 3 goats with the seed money of USD 288 (2014) “I always wanted to have goats, and it was an asset I could improve upon from the house.” She uses the goat’s milk for her children and is now planning to sell the milk too. “I have bought a fridge and can now store the milk,” she explains elaborating upon her future plans. “My husband is a wood worker and a daily wage earner. His income was erratic and insufficient for us. I want to buy him wood so he can also start his own business.”
Shahjehan's life has started improving materially. But with that has been a change in mindset of her husband. “He would not allow me to step out of the house before, but now he sees that I can help him and our life can improve considerably, he now sees me in a different light”.
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