4 July 2010

Self Help Groups

The previous post on Arunachala Grace referred to Shantimalai Trust’s founder Hugo Maier. In the hope of supplying information about this remarkable Trust’s involvement in the upliftment of many in the Tiruvannamalai area, I post below a narrative on Self Help Groups.

The story of Kasa, also below, is just one of the very many success stories that the Trust has been involved in. The photographs are of local women engaged in construction and road building in Tiruvannamalai; the type of work Kasa, of the story, would have been involved.

Self Help Groups

The women's wing of Shanthimalai Research & Development Trust [SRDT] with a vision to uplift households towards self sustenance through women self-help-groups (SHGs), now comprises 64 Panchayats covering 151 villages. About 825 groups, with a representation of 14,775 women have been supported in their attempts towards self sufficiency. In addition the ambit of SRDT through other service units, covers more than 300,000 people. Below the story of Kasa, one of the many inspirational examples of attaining self-sufficiency through the support of SRDT.

Story of Kasa

"Kasa" belongs to Valar Madhar Sangham. Kasa never had proper schooling and after an early marriage and children, the means of how to sustain and improve her life and that of her growing family, was unknown to her. At this time the thought of two meals a day was just a dream.

"As a couple we used to take road contract jobs and run to different States and used to stay for months together away from home. My children were cared and reared by mother-in-law. But as a mother I had sleepless nights due to separation from children. One night I brought up my idea of starting something of our own at home town to my husband. I convinced my husband to lead better life in home town as a native than as a migrant. We came back to village and took up some petty jobs. I joined the SHG. Learnt to put my signature and felt the change in me. Through self help groups, took a loan and brought a change in my social and economic status.

Three fruitful years rolled on and enabled us to mature economically. I availed loans for milch animal; to dig well for agriculture; and to construct a small house of our own. Having fulfilled my earlier dreams of erasing poverty I started to dream for my children's future. Today, I borrowed from groups for my children’s education. Migration and poverty is no more in my life. Contributing for overall development of my village is my next idea."

Previously the demands of local people were personalized. And their expectation was marginal subsistence in a life full of drudgery. The inception of groups and membership has slowly enabled participants not only to focus on their individual and familial goals but also to remain compassionate towards others and their community. "Women during interviews often say, 'we now should do something for our Panchayat (village community)'."


"The poor do not need charity: they need inspiration. Charity only sends them a loaf of bread to keep them alive in their wretchedness, or gives them an entertainment to make them forget for an hour or two.

What tends to do away with poverty is not the getting of pictures of poverty into your mind, but getting pictures of wealth, abundance, and possibility into the minds of the poor.

Poverty can be done away with, not be increasing the number of the rich who think about poverty, but by increasing the number of poor people who purpose with faith to get rich."

[Wallace D. Wattles]

No comments: