New Year Greetings from Seva Mandir!
We hope the New Year brings joy, happiness, peace and success to everyone’s life. We also hope that together we will be able to reduce the sufferings of our planet.
Thank you very much for your overwhelming response during the recent challenge. We are indeed very grateful for your support and would like to communicate our heartfelt thanks to you.
With this letter, we are happy sharing the progress we are making in our women’s program. Our 48 women’s groups have a membership of 14,000 women. The women’s groups are serving platforms of mutual support and encouragement for women. With various trainings (including legal issues, reproductive health, Government Schemes), meetings and exposure visits we have been able to get rural women a platform of gaining confidence and social support.
Apart from our focus on promoting their social support structure, through Self Help Groups (SHGs) we are attempting to empower women economically. Recently, an external review of our SHG program helped Seva Mandir marked the strengths and weaknesses of SHG program. Currently we have 573 SHGs with a membership of 8415 women and with a total of $ 289,348.
The struggle for women in this region is sometimes beyond family and individual. The following story is a perfect example of how women’s groups and their Self Help Group Funds help them fight back all kinds of odds in their lives.
Two SHGs from village Dadmia and Baansadiya got fishing rights in Ogna dam from Panchayat (local village council) on 28 August 09. These groups were struggling for the fishing rights in this dam for the past 3 years. Initially they fought with the local contractor who was illegally fishing in this dam for long. The women together fought for their right and made him leave the dam in June 2008.
The women now applied to Panchayat for taking the dam on lease. As being the resident of the village they have the right on their dam. But on 1 June 2009 the Panchayat through a tender process gave it to another contractor. The women had also participated in the tender process but because they offered a small amount to the Panchayat they ended up losing the contract.
But, this was not enough to discourage the women. They wrote an application to the District Collector and requested him to cancel the tender to the other contractor. Since it was a D category dam and some women members of these two SHGs had lost their land because of the construction of this dam, so, the tender was cancelled and the Gram Panchayat (the bigger level village council) was asked to do the leasing process through Gram Sabha. Finally on 28 August, the group got the dam on lease for five years for Rs. 41,000 ($ 820). The group has deposited the amount in the Panchayat.
On 19 September 09, a meeting of these two groups was organized to explore possibilities of association with Rajas Sangh (Government Department) for financial and technical support. An official from Rajash Sangh participated in this meeting. After a lot of discussion Rajas Sangh agreed to provide support to the group for 10 years under their Integrated Fisheries Development Scheme. Thereafter department released 32,200 fish seed in this dam and have assured for 70,000 more seed. Looking at the initiative of groups in Baansadiya and Dadmiya, they also provided 50,000 fish seed for three other ponds in villages Umariya, Madri and Mohammed Phalasia.
The groups are now ready to fish in their dam and are very happy at their success which was the result of their continuous efforts and mutual support.
We would like to say a big ‘Thank you’ to you for supporting these rural women. Your support will go a long way. Supporting to our SHG program has brought you to a close relation to these women which we hope will stay firm for ever.
Thank you once again.