What we have done
Meghali Loying, 30, like most women from her Mishing community was experienced in the craft of weaving. Involved in weaving since her teenage years, Meghali used to help her women relatives in producing clothes for domestic use. However after marriage, she started selling the products to support her family as her husband’s meagre income was not sufficient to meet the family needs. Though Meghali had an enterprising acumen and wished to start her own business, she could not venture because of lack of financial resources.
However, Meghali’s dream of starting her own enterprise started materializing when she and 19 other fellow women members of Naamtemera Amoraguri village came and formed Bibha Self Help Group. During the initial years, members contributed money to run the group and formed their group bank account. In 2014, the members attended a Financial Linkage Training Workshop held by NEADS, a partner of Aide et Action, in collaboration with the National Rural Livelihood Mission. After follow-up, the SHG was successful in availing a loan of Rs 12 lakhs (Rs 60000 per member) from the Assam Gramin Vikash Bank. The group members decided to scale up their handloom activities and increase their production through collective efforts. Today, most of their produce is sold in shops in the town and through their outlet in the village. Every member of the group earns Rs 2500-5000 per month through the sale of their products.
Meghali says, “I am very thankful that I attended the training by NEADS. Because of it, we got the loan from the bank. Although I was earning before, it was seasonal, however because of the increase in production, I now earn every month. I am happy that I am able to contribute to my family and in my children’s education.”
Bhavani Majhi (14), a tribal girl child is a native of Jharigaon block, Nabarangpur, Odisha. She is the eldest among three girl children in the family, studying in Sixth class. However, her younger sister Uvaasi Majhi (13), is a Ninth standard student in the same school.
The stark educational difference between these siblings is attributed to the fact that the elder child of the family was involved in sibling care and household chores in the house. Khem Singh Majhi (35), father of Bhavani says, “We are daily wage laborers without any land or regular income and depend on petty works to get our three meals a day. Having three children in the home, we felt Bhavani can take responsibility of her sisters and help in household chores when we leave to work”.
It is only after the intervention of Aide et Action South Asia, an International NGO in association with JOCHNICK foundation initiated the “Aamar Nani” project (2011) in these 10 Gram Panchayats (GPs) in Jharigaon block that major transformation has been brought about among tribal communities.
In the case of Bhavani, the project animator’s motivation helped her get re-enrolled in the school. “We felt sad when girls of Bhavani’s age were going to school and more importantly, our other two children were also going school but not Bhavani. At that point of time, the animator of our village counseled us and explained the benefits of what a girl child can do with the help of education”, says Rukmini Majhi, mother of Bhavani.
Re-enrollment in a school is not easy for a child who has to undergo certain mental trauma due to the fact that there will be students younger to her/him in the class. “Initially I was scared to go back to school as there were many children younger than me in my class. I did not know whether to answer yes or no and just bowed my head to the teacher’s questions”, says Bhavani.
Motivation by animators and school teachers with the help of Teaching Learning Materials (TLM) helped her regain her confidence. “I will become a police officer and give strict punishment to those men who harass their households after consuming alcohol”, she says, talking about her life’s aim.
Bhavani’s father, Khem Singh, says that as he is uneducated, he could not tell what actually his daughter is learning, but accepts that there has been lot of transformation since she joined school says. “Her talking style and grooming aspects have changed a lot”, he says.