Greetings from Seva Mandir!
With this letter, I am very happy to share with you some news and updates about the program you have been supporting.
Since we’ve launched this project on Global Giving, we have managed to raise about $12,500. With a target goal of $100,000, we still have a long way to go. As you know, women in our work area are often excluded from decision-making processes in their communities. In fact there is no platform for women to openly and freely discuss matters that are important to them. They are disadvantaged in nearly every way imaginable, and this even manifests in the most basic health indicators and education indicators: in our work area, 65% of women are malnourished, and the average literacy rate of rural women is as low as 20%.
Seva Mandir has created women's groups which are forums for women to meet and discuss their concerns. The Self Help Groups are an extension to these forums whereby women save up a little every month and use their funds for credit activities.These small loans are useful as it allows them to do away from local moneylenders as well as some of these women may start a small business to make further income.
Our staff is tirelessly working with 573 women’s Self-Help Groups (SHGs) comprising of over 8,200 women in 182 villages, to create a thriving network of local women who are taught basic accounting and entrepreneurial skills. These SHGs serve as a platform of mutual learning, and financial empowerment. The women in the SHGs actively engage with other local institutions to generate income for their families and create new livelihoods for themselves. Seva Mandir’s long experience in development has shown that communities that are more inclusive of women are much more likely to thrive.
Enclosed with this letter is an exceptional story of how 63 female farmers who with your support have seized an opportunity to cultivate new crops that contributed greatly to their household nutrition and income, while also reinvesting in the local ecology. We very much hope that you will enjoy reading about their progress. Thank you so much for your contributions.
This past year, in the villages of Dob, Nevaj and Atwal, the waters retained during the monsoon season (July-Aug) have given farmers the option of sowing valuable cash crops. These three villages are active in Seva Mandir’s watershed development program, which effectively combats land degradation by preventing water and soil from running off the hilly terrain. With Seva Mandir support, the three villages have also each set up their own women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs).
Together, the 63 SHG members sought to harness to improved land conditions brought about by the watershed development projects in their area. They proposed to cultivate valuable crops such as ginger, turmeric, colocassia (AKA Elephant Ears), yams (ratalu) and safed musli. The women were provided training on the cultivation of these crops, and then received loans from their local village fund to begin their project.
It was a great success. After harvest, the women took their new crops to the markets. They also were able to keep some of the crops for their own household consumption, which introduced a more diverse and nutritious diet to their families. In the end, each woman was able to pocket Rs. 1,000 – 1,500 in profit, after paying back the WDC plus an additional 10% of their loan amount. In a region where the daily per-capita consumption is less than Rs. 20 a day, this is a substantial amount!
The SHGs of Dob, Nevaj and Atwal have embodied much of what is to be aspired in true sustainable development. The women skillfully demonstrated that their empowerment can make lasting contributions to the local environment, economy, and community.