Sheerni Microcredit Project
In August and September many of the women are also working in the fields because of harvest time, which are 10-15km away from their houses and so were unable to make the monthly meetings this time. However, there have been 2 loans for 10,000 rupees and 15,000 rupees made to Sua Devi and Kesar Devi respectively, who both bought cows. Unfortunately, this month all the women in the self-help group in Solankiyatala, (a very small hamlet about 5km away from Setrawa) agreed to close this group as they weren’t able to keep it functioning. However, Mrs Mehta the Project Manager hopes that she will be able to form another group of 10 women in the area to take over from Solyankiyatala.
On 6 September the government minister who is in charge of government factories, Mr. Gajendra Singh Khivsar went to Setrawa and talked with the group of women and appreciated the work that they were doing.
Some short stories of the women from the Sheerni Project:
Herpeyar has received 10000 Rs in 2013. With this money she opened a shop in Setrawa. She now sells household goods like washing powder, sweets and cosmetics. She is very happy that she can earn her own income and make a living.
Samda received 15,000 Rs in 2013 and then again another 10,000 Rs in 2015; both amounts for her grocery shop. In her shop she sells biscuits, sweets, cold drinks and some other products. Before she got the loan for her shop, she worked at home and had no financial income. Now, she is very happy to earn her own money.
Chandu lives with her mother in law, who is a micro-finance member as well, in a simple house in Setrawa. Before they joined the Sheerni Microcredit Project they both worked as labourers in the construction and local building projects. This as we can imagine was a very tough job particularly when they also had to do the household chores and take care of the children.
Chandu was given a loan, in 2014. She invested 10,000 Rupees in a flour-mill machine. People can come to her house with their grains and Chandu will grind it for them. Now she and her mother-in- law earn money at home and can take care of the children as well. Chandu is very happy about the income and the help and support Sambhali Trust gave her.
Champa Devi, who was given a loan over 10 000 INR by Sambhali Trust. She invested the money into two goats. She earns a living through selling goat milk. Moreover every six months she can sell the goat’s new-borns. Before Sambhali Trust’s help, the family worked hard as construction workers. Now Champa Devi can work from home. Sambhali Trust has changed Champa Devi’s life remarkably and she’s very grateful.
Sheerni Educational Project
In August the volunteers have established a weekly plan for the afternoon programme for one hour after the children have finished their homework.
Monday is the Music and Dancing day. They downloaded some Indian songs, usually Bollywood songs that the girls knew from the radio. They printed the lyrics in Hindi and English, so the girls could understand the text and then they danced to their favourite songs.
Tuesday is Story day; the girls read a story together and after they understood the plot, the volunteers ask them several comprehension questions. Finally, the girls should act out the story. Afterwards they discuss it and watch a little video in Hindi that sums up the fairy tale.
On Wednesdays, they prepared a yoga lesson, so that the girls could get some exercise. The girls had fun and enjoyed showing the volunteers their own exercises that they didn't know.
Thursday is Workshop day. In the first week, they did some dip-dye with them on the roof of the Boarding Home. It was quite difficult to handle all the girls trying to be the first one to dip-dye their own fabric, but finally, they managed it! In the second week, Wednesday was Grant's last day (one of the volunteers), so he brought some cookies and they watched the first half of Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban. All the girls loved to watch the movie except Neeru who was a little bit afraid, so another volunteer decided to play outside with her. They also had workshops on origami and making bracelets.
On Fridays, they go to the local temple park and the younger girils love to do rope- skipping and to play catch.
Before we start with our afternoon program we help the girls with their homework. Alfisha makes progress in mental arithmetic concerning small addition and subtraction. Manisha however has some difficulties in Maths, but with the help of Vimlesh and the volunteers, she can correct it herself. In the beginning of August, the girls in the 6th and 7th classes talked about the divisibility rules at school. They all had some problems with it, so Vimlesh explained it to them again and we prepared worksheets for them to practise this topic. Nisha was the only one who understood everything and she helped the other girls, especially Pooja. Another problem was that some of the girls copy and share their homework from each other, so the volunteers are helping them to improve on their weaknesses. In general, the all the girls are better speaking English than in writing and comprehension. All the girls went together with Renate (President Sambhali Germany), Nirmala (Housemother) and Vimlesh (tutor) to the cinema and watched the movie Bajrangi Bhaijan. That was much fun for the girls and they told us that they had an amazing evening. In the last week of August, all the girls except Vishnu, Samta, Alfisha, Noshin and Pooja, left the Boarding Home for four days to spend the festival with their families.
A short interview with one of the girls at the Boarding Home:
Pooja 13 years old (in the group photo, she is middle row, far right next to the door).
Pooja's family lives in Solankiyatala, a small hamlet near Setrawa and has a scoliosis of her spine, but has received exercises from the physio to help her and now although her mobility is limited it does not hinder her daily activities. When she was born she had two legs of different length, and was known as the "disabled" or the "sin" in her village. Living in the Boarding home, where everyone loves her how she is, is a blessing for her. Her family live in a hut, consisting of two rooms, where her parents, 2 sisters and 3 brothers live. They have no electricity or running water in their home. Pooja's mother is called Sua and works in the house all day and her smallest son Dinesh tries to support her. Mendar is her second oldest son and he works as a herder outside the whole day. She has two older sisters, Kamla and Madhu who are both married already and Ramu, the oldest brother works together with his father Lalaram as a quarry labourer. Pooja's father is addicted to alcohol.
Pooja came to the Boarding Home in 2012 when the project started.
During the last three years, Pooja has learnt how to read Hindi and English books. Since most of the volunteers do not understand Hindi she has to talk a lot in English which is why she can speak English very well now. She joins in with all the activities that the volunteers put on and has worked hard with her school work and has got very good grades.
The goals in her life and her wishes for the future:
First of all, Pooja wants to finish school and college. After that, she would like to go back to Solyankiyatala to live together with her family. She wants to find good work to support her family but she is still not sure about the kind of job she wants to do. Pooja does not want to marry. But she knows that her father will probably arrange a marriage for her and that she will have to follow his plans for her.
What does she appreciate relating to the Boarding Home?
What Pooja likes most about her life in the Boarding Home is, that she can go to school every day. She loves all subjects (except maths) and enjoys learning so many new things. Her hobby is reading books.
She is also very happy about the new space in the Boarding Home thanks to the new rooms that were built a few months ago. Pooja likes to live together with so many other girls and she appreciates the different activities organized by the volunteers during the week. The Music-day is her favourite day of the week.
Sheerni Educational Project
After the girls finished their summer exams they all went on a trip to Mount Abu in Rajasthan - a 4-hour journey from Jodhpur. Nirmala, Virendra, Vimlesh together with the volunteers working at the Boarding Home, escorted the girls for the 4 day trip. As 20 of the girls come from the rural village of Setrawa and 2 girls from Jodhpur, it was the first time they had left their home town and ventured further afield. Mount Abu is a well-known tourist spot in Southern Rajasthan, having a lake, hills, wildlife as well as home to the international spiritual centre of Brahma Kumaris. The girls enjoyed visiting the Nakki Lake, Dilwara Jain temple, the nearby wildlife sanctuary and completed a hike up Guru Shikar (the highest point!).
New build construction has been completed in the Boarding Home, which has a new room built on what was the terraced area on the first floor. It now has room for 18 girls sleeping in there with new beds, whilst the other areas have tables and benches in now, used for meals and studying.
All the girls have been working hard at school and have done well in their summer exams. All but 3 of the girls finished with more than 75% with Neeru getting 96%. The girls then went back to their homes for their summer holiday for the month of June and have all now started in a new class at school. Volunteers go in regularly to help them with their English tuition and provide workshops; whilst Vimlesh, their Sambhali tutor helps with extra tuition.
Sheerni MicroCredit Project
This month’s meeting of all the groups took place. Delhi Doordarshan TV went to Setrawa and made a documentary on the Self-Help Group Project and stayed in Setrawa for two days. They asked women from the 10 groups what changes they have experienced since they joined this Project. They also made a film on how they could start their business after taking a loan from the Group. They knew it was going to be shown on television and cast light on the importance of MicroCredit and Self-Help Groups and initiated a discussion on its successful running and monitoring.
Sheerni Self-Help Group Setrawa
There are 109 members in the 10 Self-help Groups.
There are 20 women who have ongoing loans
In January 2015, Groups 1, 2, 3, 4 and 7 there were only 20,000-30,000 rupees in the funds, and so loans were not distributed to these groups.
Group 5 10000 rupees was given to Shaida to open a shop
Group 6 6000 rupees was given to both Muni and Indra for a goat each
In February, there were 4 loans in Groups 2,4, 5 and 10.
10000 rupees was given to Rajukanwar for 1 cow
10000 rupees was given to Champa for 2 goats
5000 rupees was given to both Dariya and Sayar for 1 goat each
In March, 3 women from Groups 1 and 3 were given loans to start a small shop.
Muni, Shanti and Hemlata were given 13000, 12,000 and 10,000 rupees respectively.
Setrawa Sheerni Compost Project
For 6 weeks from 23 March to 16 May, one of the Foundation for Sustainable Development (FSD) volunteers attached to Sambhali Trust has been working on a project which introduces the production of organic waste composting to 15 Sheerni women through a series of educational workshops, from which the resulting compost will then be sold to local farmers. This will create an income–generating opportunity that will also address desertification (Setrawa is in the semi-arid Thar desert region) and waste management to the village. By composting the earth, the farmers have the potential to rejuvenate the land allowing for replanting of grasslands for cattle. The more plant life in a region, the more water retention there is in the ground and humidity levels in the air.
At present most families burn their rubbish in community piles on the outskirts of the village or allow for street animals to eat the waste; so this project helps reduce the waste in the streets but also there is a consistent supply of free waste material for production. The compost itself is made from food, biological dust, cow dung and water.
Sheerni Educational Project (Boarding Home), Jodhpur
The girls received the results of their half-year exams in January and in general all the girls did well with Vimla, Leela, Nehru, Lalita, Manisha having very good results and Priya, Samta, Sangeeta and Santosh not so good and A few had problems in Maths like Pooja and Vishnu.
All girls are making progress in Hindi reading; just Neru who still has some problems and Noshin doesn’t enjoy reading English books; however, the volunteers work hard reading everyday with the girls and helping those like Rekha who has more problems. The volunteers also keep a schedule for when the girls have an upcoming test or homework and know how to help them prepare.
In March, The elder girls such as Nisha, Lalita, Santosh and Vimla were struggling especially with the English tenses and the volunteers concentrated on teaching the girls English and left the Maths to being taught this at school in Hindi. Alfisha has been impressive as she is reading Hindi fluently like her sister and Pooja has been remarkable because in 95% of her past tests in English she has received full marks and is very motivated to learn and every day asks a volunteer to help her read an English story. Pankaj for her age and her class (2nd grade) is a very good English speaker and has achieved good grades.
Sheerni Educational Project (Boarding Home)
The 22 girls are all improving at school and their latest tests were good, the majority nearly getting full marks, with Asu having problems in Maths and Rekha at reading, but the volunteers are spending 4 hours there daily are working to help them pick up. So in their half-year exams in December,they all had good results apart from Priya, Samta,Sangeeta and Santosh.
The girls were delighted to receive their own lap-top which was given to them by some guests visiting Sambhali’s projects. Now the volunteers are teaching them how to use the computer and programmes like „Word“ and „Paint“. They also gave several workshops including those about South America, Antartica and Europe; then concentrating on geography of Europe in particular and the different landscape and cultures. They have also done a fashion workshop – clothes, their fabrics, many cultures with different clothes, asking the girls to create their own fashion model and a handicraft workhop where the girls created bracelets from different colour threads.
Their height and weight measurements are regularly taken and they are all gaining weight eating the nutritious vegetarian meals they receive at the boarding home. There is a lot of construction work going on at the moment to create more space in the boarding home, so the girls have more areas to relax, study and play, which will be important as they grow older, as now the age range is 8-15 years old.
On Republic Day, January 26, the volunteers received an invitation to go to their school where there was a lot of singing and dancing performances lasting for 4 hours. Some girls had to go back to their village in January for 10 days to attend a marriage.
All girls are progressing in reading especially Hindi reading, only Neru has some problems but she is being given some extra tuition. Every day the volunteers read English books with some of them. We concentrate on girls who has deficits like Rekha.
Sheerni Self-Help Group Project
There are 10 self-help groups who meet every month to pay in their savings, and discuss the distribution of loans.
In August, 10,000 rupees was given to 2 women to purchase a little shop and to buy goats.
In September, more women were added to Group 7 and in Group 2, one women received 6000 rupees for material for her shop
In October 2 women from Group 1 paid their loan back, of 9000 rupees each. In Group 6 Sua Devi was given 10000 rupees to purchase a cow and now must pay back 1000 rupees per month. In Group 5 Sugna received 10000 rupees to start a small shop. Two other women also received loans of 10000 rupees to purchase a cow each.
In November, 3 women received loans of 9000, 14000 and 10000 rupees to start small shops and purchase 2 goats.
In December, there were a lot of loans, in total 19 women took out loans worth 181,000 rupees.
Sua Devi was presented with some money from a volunteer because she needed a medical operation and now we are glad to say that she is recovering happily.
The girls returned to the boarding home on 26 June before the schools reopened on 1 July after the summer holidays. We prepared books, uniforms, shoes, etc. to send the girls to school, however, this month, the government schools have a new system: the schools don’t provide the books any longer and the students have to purchase the books themselves, so we spent a lot of time buying the books they needed for school.
The girls are now in many new classes at the beginning of a new school year and 4 girls, Leela, Nakhtu, Pooja, and Aasu jumped up a class and went straight to the 5th class instead of the 4th after some very good exam results before the summer break.
One of the Sambhali tutors Vimlesh, spent some time teaching Math and other subjects to all of the girls as well as helping them with their computer homework. Nirmala the Housemother helped them with their homework. All the girls are studying very well, and the volunteers help them with homework, with English reading and pronunciation and Maths. The volunteers have noticed a big difference in reading skills; Priya, Manisha and Vimla can read an entire book and are fluent, whereas Rekha and Pooja find it difficult to read if they don’t know the text. At the end of the afternoon, the volunteers spend time communicating with the girls in different ways, by speaking, playing games, reading stories, singing and drawing. There have been between 4-6 volunteers helping the girls at the boarding home this month, who go every afternoon Monday-Friday for 3 hours. Exam-time came round again on 21 August and the volunteers helped to train the girls for their tests, but they noticed that most of the girls didn’t really understand what they were learning, just questions and answers, so they spent time trying to explain to the girls the stories they are reading, although it proved slightly difficult as the volunteers can’t speak Hindi. During August there were a couple of birthday celebrations for Santosh, Vimla and Pooja as well as the Rakhi festival. Unfortunately Naktu’s grandmother died and 10 girls left to go back to the village for a couple of days for her funeral.
In September, we had some new volunteers. They found that in Math, most girls knew how to calculate and so they checked and corrected the exercises. Alfisha, the newest and youngest girl at 7 y ears old has some problems with Maths and needed more tuition. Priya, who is 14 years old and excelling at reading is now in Class 9, whereas Rekha is 15 years old and is only in the 5th class. The volunteers help Rekha on a daily basis with reading to help her improve as with all those girls who are still reading very slowly and also concentrate on understanding the content. Also they found mistakes in the actual sentence structure in the exercise and reading books; the volunteers wanted to talk to the teachers of the school about this so that the mistakes can be corrected in the books.
A couple of guests arrived from Australia (Timi and Mary) who had already visited a couple of times before. They noticed that the girls were learning about computers at school, but it was just theory and they thought it would be more effective if they provided a laptop for the sole use of the girls in the boarding home. So the girls were very happy with the new laptop; now the volunteers need to teach all the girls how to use it...! In early September when the weather is now slightly less hot, the girls go every Friday to the park area surrounding the temple after they’ve finished their homework to play outside and have fun. They also had a painting competition one day, where the winners won a small prize.
On the 15th and 16th September, the girls went to the ASG hospital for checking their eyes and some girls they found it necessary to wear glasses and they received the glasses for free. They have a doctor from the Mathura Das Mathur Hospital in Jodhpur regularly going to see the girls once a month to check on their general health and well-being. On the 20 September the girls visited the cinema and watched the movie called "Mary Kom" about a women who achieves her dream and starts her boxing carrer against the will of her father. The girls really enjoyed it. On the 25th the girls had a day’s holiday for Navatri. At the end of the month, we showed them short animation movies in English for listening practice; it was a short story about finding a treasure. Again, we celebrated 3 more birthdays this month. Certain girls are now showing great dedication towards their schoolwork: Priya, Vimla, Manisha, Santosh, Nisha, Anu and Pankaj are interested in all the subjects in school.
In October, Renate Massmann-Krei, volunteer and now President of Freunde fur Sambhali in Germany returned again for the 2nd time. It was thought it would be better to change the structure of the learning by dividing the girls into groups, which reflect their class in school. They concentrated on practising verb tenses because they had learned the five tenses (simple present, present progressive, simple past, past perfect, present perfect and future) at school in just a few days, which meant that they got confused about how and when to use them. The volunteers practised with the easy tenses like simple present and present progressive and then will progress to practise the other tenses.
With Anu, Priyanka, Samta, Vishnu and Pushpa we practised the exercises for the test specifically, where the test was about a story which they have to memorize and then fill in the gaps to say if it's right or wrong. With Aasu, Leela and Naktu we practised fractions; at first they had problems understanding what to do but finally they understood it. The older girls like Vimla, Priya and Santosh are mostly learning by themselves and if they have questions, they can ask the volunteers.
Renate suggested an idea of using the Diwali holidays, for doing workshops in the morning. We started with a workshop about the earth, moon, sun, continents and oceans. The other topics were means of transportation and the different western festivals and holidays and a special workshop on handicraft skills The students liked the workshops a lot and because of this, we want to launch a "workshop day" once a week. Currently we have lots of ideas for the workshops in the future.
On the 8 October two guests came from America came to Sambhali Trust and also went to the boarding home, so we danced and sang different songs.
On the 17 October, the girls had 1 week holiday because of Diwali. They had to do special Diwali homeworks like drawing oil lamps and candles, but also English and Math. On the 30 October to 1 November the girls had exams in school. The majority of the girls received good results. A few had problem in Math like Pooja and Vishnu.
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