Empower deserted women and widows in rural India

by Chetana-Vikas (Consciousness-Development)
Vetted
Meet Ranjana as she starts her cooking for the day
Meet Ranjana as she starts her cooking for the day

Ranjana's mother-in-law put her small cot in their agriculture field and slept. There is nothing new in this. Farmers and family members do eat, sleep in their fields to protect their crops, take rest and it is a favoured place to sleep in summer months.

Here, the mother-in-law went to sleep on the very spot of the field where Ranjana had planned to dig a well to improve productivity of the land which could bring in some extra money for the family.

Every time Ranjana called the JCB ( an earth mover machine)  to start digging the well, her mother-in-law would start sleeping on the very spot identified and selected for constructing the well. This went on for 2 years.

Ranjana, when she became a widow was trying to bring her life together by single handedly tending to her two small children, to make ends meet. Life was hard and she did not possess any other skill to improve her condition. She decided to work on the small family land putting in her own labour.  A member of a joint family, with hostile relatives after her husband's death, she had a running tussle with her mother-in-law who was trying every trick in the book to harass her.

Ultimately, Ranjana had to borrow and pay Rs.50,000 (US$ 742) to her own mother-in-law to construct the well. This step enabled Ranjana to do agriculture as she herself wanted too. She still has to pay Rs.10,000 (US$ 148) as rent, every year to her mother-in-law who owns the land.

Water helped soak the parched field. She could diversify her crops which earlier were dependant only on rain water, which allowed her no room to try new things.

Earlier on, she had actually taken a loan of Rs.10,000 (US$ 148) from the support given by you and done a small trade of buying & Selling of readymade "turmeric powder" a favoured spice in Indian cooking. This small seasonal business had given her a profit of Rs.5,000 (US $ 74). The immediate take-up of the spice by people and the profit earned got her thinking.

And this was why she thought of constructing a Well to irrigated her land.  Turmeric is a 7 month crop and rains come for three & half months so it was impossible to cultivate on dry land. Now that the water was made available for irrigation, she planned and planted turmeric as a major crop in part of her small land.

Production of turmeric on her own land with own labour, with home processing, significantly reduced the cost and she could sell at least 2 Qtls (200 kgs) of turmeric powder. This time she earned a profit of Rs.10,000 (US $ 148).

This completion of cycle enabled her to earn a very good profit.

She could contribute to construct a 3 room house, with the help of a Government Scheme.  Now she is staying in her new home with her children. Mother-in-law is also now more amiable.

Today, she is planning to diversify with some other other irrigated crops and also bought a goat and a calf so that her dependence on a single business is reduced.

Independent, successful and secure about her future.

Friends, we know of people and athletes who run their races from start to finish.

There are lives and people whose races are actually starting FROM the finish line. 

When YOU support US, you are actually helping such women whose lives have not started at all or are on the brink of finish line.

Include all your friends and relatives and get them involved in -
<http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empower-deserted-women-and-widows-in-rural-india/,>.  

Can also know about us through FB Link.
<https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chetana-Vikas/162861643736214.>

Best wishes,

Niranjana
Project Leader

Ranjana amidst her field of mature turmeric
Ranjana amidst her field of mature turmeric
Ranjana
Ranjana's son now helps her in tending the field
Customers buying home processed turmeric powder
Customers buying home processed turmeric powder
Mother-in-law now a helpful family member for her
Mother-in-law now a helpful family member for her
Diversifying in business frm earlier profit earned
Diversifying in business frm earlier profit earned
Triveni in front of her home with family.
Triveni in front of her home with family.

RISING FROM ZERO  

20 women come together and start a business of providing utensils for events like weddings, festivals, birthdays etc. Good profit. They buy more utensils. Things start looking up as people came regularly to them and take materials on hire.

As profit goes up a suspicious mind steps in.

Where is all the money going ? Is it only this much profit ?

The leader of the group, Triveni whose efforts got the business up and running faced charges of corruption. Things come to such a head that staff from Chetana-Vikas and other villagers had to be roped in to clear the accounts and also explain it to people who even actually had no hand in the business. They were mostly jealous men-folk of the village who could not digest the fact of the women running a successful enterprise. Now, with the group broken, the utensils distributed, the money Nil. there is only one woman who helps Triveni in the trade.

Triveni had a streak of advicing people and exhort them to shun wrong doing. She asked the youth of the village to stop gambling and join productive work. Stung by her attitude, they took advantage of her reputation and again blamed her for stealing their gambled money.

Undeterred by this experience, in fact wisened by it Triveni, a widow of 58 years decided to strike it on her own.  By this time Triveni had realized that her being a single woman and that too going about the village as a pioneer woman was challenging the established social norms for a widow.

To improve her financial condition, she took up small business of selling turmeric powder in nearby villages, getting a profit of Rs.50/kg (US $ 0.74 / kg) of powder.

With the meager profit, she again applied for a loan of Rs.10,000/- (US $ 148) and established a flour mill in the village. To run a mill, traditionally run by men was again a thorn in the eye of the men-folk. However, by now Triveni had established credentials with other women folk of the village. They came to her and supported her. This experience then encouraged her to run a small business of selling stationary and jewelry to the women, which is running well.

With her never say die attitude; Triveni still feels she can do a lot for the community. Like when, she exhorted other women to contribute their labour for  a  road's construction. Their village had no approach road. The road was then also sanctioned by the village governing body.

Friends, Triveni rose from zero to again reap profit.

It was a profit of not only money, but also of a learning lesson and skills to handle difficult situations.

This was essentially possible  from the support you provided. The going is tough for these women and they are entirely alone in society.

We stand with them.

We thank you for making this possible. It is year end. Have you directed your friends and relatives to his page ?  

<http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empower-deserted-women-and-widows-in-rural-india/,>.

<https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chetana-Vikas/162861643736214.>

So that they share their happiness and joy in as may new ways as possible.

Like for and with women like Triveni.

We will continue bringing stories of women who rise to fulfill their dreams. We will meet next year. Thanks once again.

 

WISHING A VERY HAPPY 2017 TO YOU !

 

Niranjana

Project Leader

The material of the disbanded business of utensils
The material of the disbanded business of utensils
Triveni selling jewelry from her small trade.
Triveni selling jewelry from her small trade.
Managing the Flour Mill single handedly.
Managing the Flour Mill single handedly.
Contribution of labour for the approach road.
Contribution of labour for the approach road.
Making tea at the end of the full day.
Making tea at the end of the full day.
Kamal sweeping the courtyard of her house
Kamal sweeping the courtyard of her house

When someone is blessed with lots of wealth and the person shares it with the less privileged, it can be said that this person is "large hearted".
When one's life is a test of providence and one's pockets are empty but still, one shares with others whatever one has than this is what really, "generosity" means.

Kamal as a person and the way she has led her life is a classic example of the above dictum. 

Not willing to live with an alcoholic husband, she deserted him soon after marriage. A young woman then, she came back to her parents, but to a life of penury.
Doing odd jobs with her mother and father,  the life was of subsistence for the family.
She knew a bit of sewing and joined a class run by Chetana-Vikas to hone her skills. Her machine was rickety but Kamal could manage a bit with the small income it offered.

Life had other plans.
Kamal had a sister who was married. she suddenly expired due to illness. Unfortunately the sister's husband abandoned the children. The children's faces tugged at Kamal's heart.
She took the two year old girl child and a six month old son of her sister under her wings and started taking care of them.
Life was really hard now for meeting the children's needs, an impending education cost plus her own families meager condition. But Kamal was not the one to lose heart.

Being a frail person, she could not work regularly in agricultural fields. But she took up whatever came up as an opportunity and slogged on forward with and for her extended family.
Succor came up in the form of a Self-Help Group formed in her village by Chetana-Vikas.
By and by as savings increased, she took periodic loans to repair her sewing machine and also started diversifying by keeping related accessories for sale.
Till now, small loans and its profit were helping her slowly improve their living condition.

It is here that the consistent support received from you,  offered us and the village SHG an opportunity to give Kamal a lump sum to start an independent business.

This one time large support of Rs.13,000 (US $ 194) enabled her to buy material for making incense sticks and and she started this work at her home with some of her Self Help Group friends. She could get a profit of Rs.10,000/- to 15,000/- (US $ 150 to 225) in the past year.
Kamal works hard and alongwith her friends goes from shop to shop in markets, from village to village to effect their sales.

The small profits have enabled her to repair her house and construct a room. She has managed to marry off the daughter. Kamal could also give a decent education to both the children.

It is the smile on Kamal's face which belies the life she has led. Alongwith her friends in the SHG, she is forever ready to help others in need, runs around for people and still manages to keep her own boat steady.
Life is looking up with the growing trade of incense sticks and a young boy by her side -  an abandoned boy who has turned into a strapping youth to help her build it further.
Like her incense sticks, Kamal spread fragrance in lives which had/have no hope. 

Our endeavor at Chetana-Vikas is not just to help women economically but also to help women find their inner strength and give wings to their efforts to find solutions.
With knowledge, awareness, a bit of resources and a rock solid social support makes them make the most and best of the opportunities offered.

Thank you for being co-travelers in this mission.

Our project is -
<http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empower-deserted-women-and-widows-in-rural-india/,>.  

Can also know about us through FB Link.
<https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chetana-Vikas/162861643736214.>

Thanks once again.

Niranjana
Project Leader

Kamal sewing clothes on her repaired machine
Kamal sewing clothes on her repaired machine
Kamal with her mother and her sister
Kamal with her mother and her sister's son at home
Packing incense sticks for sale with her friends
Packing incense sticks for sale with her friends
The strong social support of local Self Help Group
The strong social support of local Self Help Group
The young nephew helping Kamal with daily chores
The young nephew helping Kamal with daily chores
Mangala being felicitated by another village woman
Mangala being felicitated by another village woman

Friends, through this project, we have consistently introduced women who have stood upto challenges of life. Stories of women, gritty and unyielding in the face of hardships - monetary and social; Who ultimately could carve out a niche for one self and their children.

And all this with the support donated by you.

Today, also we have a woman, Mangala Deshmukh who has fought to keep her place in a man's world. A widow, she runs a business of readymade garments and through small loans, makes a decent profit to run her home.

But today we want to also share with you that the impact of economic self-reliance is not limited to just getting enough money to buy food, clothes or books for education.

The economic independence empowers the women and makes her realize the potential that she possess and that her new-found abilities can be used for solving many other challenges that one comes across in life.

Riding on the vehicle of self-confidence and self-realization, Mangala exhorts other women of her village to save money and join Self-Help groups to better their condition. She asks them to get organized and collectively fight for community upliftment.
Under her leadership, they have successfully tackled local issues which were threatening to spiral into big fights.

Like when, a young couple belonging to different castes wanted to marry, but were boycotted by their community for breaking social norms. The women gave their full support and also helped the couple to set their new house with needful things. Today, the parents are also reconciled and happy to include the couple, in their family.

Or when, a  woman suffering from leprosy was shunned and thrown away by her husband once they discovered her disease. But Mangala, once she got information about the curability of the disease brought the woman home, nursed her and took care of her, paid for her medicines and cured her completely. Then she made the husband understand about her disease and brought about their reconciliation. Today the  woman is living happily with her husband and children.  

Mangala undertook various trainings organized by Chetana-Vikas to understand development issues and made her organized women's groups to regularly attend "Gramsabhas" - meetings held for solving issues of the village. The women became vocal about their just demands, made the governing body sanction many schemes like importantly for improving hygiene and sanitation. Today, there are  smokeless stoves and toilets in every home of the village.

Their village was a completely dependent on private money lenders and banks. But through Mangala and her women, all of them became Self-Help group members and today all their work is done through their own savings. The villagers do not need to go to the Bank for their needs.

Apart from that Mangala is an active member, teacher of the 'out of school' learning centre for children of her village. She also regularly organizes trainings & other camps for benefit of the village, to bring in awareness about different and new issues for women, men and youth of village. 

In this way, her economic self-reliance, turned Mangala into a socially conscious and politically empowered active individual. Plus opportunities honed her leadership skills and also made her 'organized group of women' empowered and self-reliant in their own ways.

So, a lamp lights another lamp, showing the light and leading the way.

This would have been difficult to achieve if she had to keep on fending for herself and live a subsistence life, constantly wondering how to  pass another day without worries.

So, please realize that small help from you actually triggers a much bigger change than what it was given for.

So, please add your friends and relatives in your endeavor. Direct them to

<http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empower-deserted-women-and-widows-in-rural-india/,>.  

And also the FB Link.

<https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chetana-Vikas/162861643736214.>

Thanking you very much !

Warmly,

Niranjana 

Organized villagers protesting against addiction
Organized villagers protesting against addiction
Mangala & children - out of school learning centre
Mangala & children - out of school learning centre
Mangala at cycle learning camp for village women
Mangala at cycle learning camp for village women
Mangala & women discussing issues of the village
Mangala & women discussing issues of the village
Mangala in centre presiding at a village function
Mangala in centre presiding at a village function
Friends  who helped Kanta (extreme left) get loan
Friends who helped Kanta (extreme left) get loan

Necessity is the mother of invention.

But there are many people with ideas who cannot give shape to their dreams because there are no resources or backup to start with.

The support given by you at Global Giving for this project ensured that no women would be mopping on her sorrows, but instead take wings to fulfill their aspirations.

The steady donations also ensured a reasonable quantity of money to be used to make tangible difference to their lives. So, please continue directing friends and relatives to

<http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empower-deserted-women-and-widows-in-rural-india/,>.  

And also the FB Link.

<https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chetana-Vikas/162861643736214.>

Tell them about Kanta who is 56 today. 10 years earlier her husband died due to a long endured disease. Even during his life,  he was of little help to care for his 3 children and wife. It was Kanta who used to try different things to make ends meet.

However, coming under Global Giving support opened her chances of availing a stronger capital to start a business.

Earlier she could take small loans of Rs.2,000 – 3,000/- ($ 30 to $ 44) at one time, which helped her in need.

Now she took up  Rs.20,000/- ($ 292) to start trading in chilies, one of the well loved and well used spice of the region.

Some money went in buying the capital goods alongwith weighing and packing apparatus.

The first round of trade gave her good returns with which she could pay back her loan and as well as have a profit of Rs.5000/- ($  73).

This she immediately invested in buying a cow, which gave birth to a calf soon after.

Kanta sells the surplus milk. On an average she gets  Rs.50 / day ($ 0.73 / day) on this investment apart from the milk that the family members are able to consume. They are also able to use the manure from the two animals for their small piece of land.

Now, after meeting the family’s needs, the profit coupled with a second loan of Rs.5000/- ($ 73) has enabled her to buy a goat. A classic case of varied and diversified business.

The first thing that Kanta did was to construct a toilet for her family. She is also supporting her children with education, besides helping them to set up their own businesses to start a livelihood. They help Kanta in her own business and work.

Kanta’s story is still more special because the children she helped with your support were not her own. They were borne by her husband’s first wife, who eventually expired. After her husband’s death, Kanta did not abandon the 3 children, then aged 8, 10 and 12. She looked after them and now they are with her rock solid.

Life has pulled off and now it smiles !   Thank you.

Alongwith Kanta & her three children, 

(Ms.) Niranjana

The cow & calf bought from profit of chilly trade
The cow & calf bought from profit of chilly trade
With the calf to be sold bringing in extra income
With the calf to be sold bringing in extra income
Chilly --> Cow + calf --> & now a Goat --> contd..
Chilly --> Cow + calf --> & now a Goat --> contd..
Kanta in front of  her  house ;   PULLED OFF !
Kanta in front of her house ; PULLED OFF !
 

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Project Leader:
Ms. Niranjana Maru
Wardha, Maharashtra India
$15,204 raised of $15,000 goal
 
203 donations
$0 to go
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