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Maharashtra - Case Studies
Title Issue
A Little Effort Can Be a Lot Women's Empowerment
A Shakutai to the rescue Capacity Building
A Smart Step to a Safe Future Skill Based Livelihoods
Co-operating to Change Lives Skill Based Livelihoods
Education Vs Corruption Education
Fight HIV with Love Healthcare
Heads Held High Water Resource Management
HIV Back on a Leash Healthcare
Losing a calf could bring him to his knees Healthcare
Timely Intervention to the Rescue Healthcare
Trainee Turned Trainer Skill Based Livelihoods
A Little Effort Can Be a Lot

This story lives out the Chinese proverb - A journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step.

It is a story from Targhar village in Panvel, Maharashtra. The SHG members here all had been making small savings with the SHG every month. They decided that a continuous income generating activity was needed. After they discussed and debated, took into consideration the availability of raw materials and the viability of different business options, one member suggested agarbatti making. The SHG unanimously agreed with the idea, and started training in how to make agarbattis.

The training was so successful that the group went into production in only two months! Another member pointed out the need for packing and marketing the product properly. The members approached the local ACF office where they got a research plan sorted out to explore cost, sourcing of raw materials, packaging material, etc.

For most of these women this was their first experience of working outside of their homes. The training, exploring the market, connecting with dealers and handling the venture on their own was an empowering experience. The SHG members are now even selling their agarbattis outside their village, and also have orders from co-operative stores.

Motivated by their initial success, the women are taking more efforts to improve the standard of the product, and are trying to run their organisation professionally. They got a bill book printed and are now in the process of getting a
VAT number.

This steady development of the women’s group is promising toward ACF’s efforts and the village community in general.
A Shakutai to the rescue

Megha Boir felt her dreams of becoming a mother would never be fulfilled. After seven miscarriages, she was in a terrible mental and physical state. The pattern was the same. Each pregnancy was naturally terminated in 2 to 3 months. Belonging to a poor family,her nutritional status wasn’t good to begin with the onslaught of successive failed pregnancies only made it worse. When there was little to eat, it was hard for the family to spare money for medical expenses.

When Megha was expecting for the 8th time, she rushed to the VHF of her village with the hope that Shakutai would be able to do something to help her. When Shakutai met Megha, she knew that the odds were stacked against her. Megha’s case did not look very hopeful, but Shakutai was determined to help her in every possible way. She took Megha to one of ACF’s health camps for pregnant women and got her examined by the doctor there. The doctor prescribed her some tonics and supplements to improve her health and Shakutai was requested to closely monitor her health and report any untoward development to the doctor.

Megha’s family was strapped for finances and the added healthcare cost was exerting too much pressure on their limited resources. Shakutai brought up the issue in the Village Health and Sanitation Committee meeting as she needed more resources that she had with her. The villagers were moved by Megha’s plight and unanimously agreed that to help Megha. They decided that a token amount will be given to her by the Committee from its common pool of funds. The money she would receive per month was to be used for purchasing nutritious food and the recommended supplements.

With the assistance extended by the villagers, Megha’s financial troubles eased. Shakutai too did her bit by regularly advising and monitoring her progress. As her health stabilized and began improving, Megha and her husband were frequently found in high spirits. Her pregnancy progressed without any serious problem and now she is awaiting the arrival of her bundle of joy.


A Smart Step to a Safe Future

Meenatai Bobade and her husband Deorao Bobade were small farmers from the village Pimpalgaon, in Maharashtra. Meenatai was a clever woman, and when she learnt about the local Suvidha SHG, she joined it so that she could maintain some savings. This was two years back.

A year after that Deorao was nominated for micro enterprise training, to make organic pesticides, at the Centre for Science in Villages (CSV) at Wardha.

They decided to put the training to work and produce a neem-based pesticide on a large-scale. Initially itself sales were good. So Meenatai got a loan of Rs. 15,000 from the SHG for an initial capital needed to start a business. The couple also approached CSV to learn about packaging techniques, and so with the loan Meenatai got and Deorao’s new knowledge, the Bobades came up with Herbipest. They sold their final bottled product for Rs. 100, and bagged a huge profit with just the first 400.

With the profit they could repay their loan immediately, and have got a huge order for 1,000 bottles. A small endeavour proved to have the makings of a great business establishment.
Co-operating to Change Lives

Owning a meagre land holding of 1 acre in Maharashtra, Arun Kasti depended on his cycle repair shop to meet his family’s material needs. The money he earned from his shop fell short of his requirements and the family lived in a perpetual state of financial crisis. A young motivated man, Arun was convinced that there had to be a way to boost his income. He felt that a milk co-operative may be the answer to his problems. It would not only benefit him but would also benefit all those who joined the co-operative. He took up the charge of motivating others in the village to come together to form the
co-operative. He managed to get a group of 25 ready and formed a milk co-operative in October 2007. Each member purchased two cattle of good quality.

Today Arun supplies 20 litres of milk to the society and earns about Rs. 250 per day. The society too has been doing well. It has established a link with a private dairy in Chandrapur. After repaying his monthly instalments and deducting the cost of cattle feed, he was able to make a neat profit of Rs. 3, 000 per month. With the profits made through the sale of milk, Arun’s life has improved for the better. He hopes to buy more cattle in the future and further improve his profits.

Arun has big dreams. He now wants to improve the quality of his cattle to get a yield of 30 litres per day.

Education Vs Corruption

It is sad that the last place that corruption should taint is where it is centered.

A school in Lakhmapur, in the Gadhchandur district of the state of Maharashtra, had been receiving food from the government for its mid-day meal programme. Being a fairly large school, the daily consumption of food was high, so it took a while for the Village Education Committee (VEC) to suspect that the food grains weren’t being properly utilized and that misappropriation of food grains was taking place.

An investigation revealed that the school’s headmaster had been pilfering a portion of the food grains meant for the children. Even though he enjoyed strong support from his staff members, the VEC decided to take strict disciplinary action against him. He was reported by the VEC to higher authorities and was ousted from his position.

The VEC set an excellent example for the entire village community, showing how effective monitoring can ensure that institutions set up to serve society do not become corrupt.


Fight HIV with Love

In Gadchandur, Maharashtra, two little girls, Priya*, 7 and Meera*, 3 were orphaned when their parents died of AIDS. The girls were being taken care off by distant relatives, since not only were the girls young but they were also tested positive for HIV. The local ACF decided to cover the expenses since it was beyond the means of the family.

With ACF’s help the girls are doing well with constant medication and care, and have a lot to look forward to in life.

* Names changed to maintain confidentiality
Heads Held High

Dhanoli, Maharashtra, is one of the many villages in India, which faces a recurrent scarcity of fresh potable water every summer. The little village in Korpana block managed its fresh water needs with just two hand pumps. But each time the pumps needed maintenance the women would have to walk at the least 2 km. everyday to bring home water. The women realized it was a waste of time and energy, and so they organised training sessions for themselves, where they were taught to repair and maintain hand pumps.

The hands-on training they received has changed their lives for the better. Now everytime the water pumps need to be fixed, the women of Dhanoli take care of it themselves. Along with saving a lot of time and energy, the women of Dhanoli are self sufficient are also very proud of themselves, and for good reason.

HIV Back on a Leash

When HIV affects one person, it affects the whole family. Last year, in Lakhamapur, a small village in the Chandrapur district of Maharashtra, a sudden outburst of HIV +ve cases began emerging. An ACF staff member in that village, Jignabhai Waghli *, suspected Ramabhai Gogla* of being HIV +ve for a long time. So Waghli organized counseling sessions for him, where he disclosed that he had been tested positive for HIV two years back. Ramabhai died of TB sometime later. Waghli decided to test the entire family. With husband gone and no one to take care of the family, misery struck again. His wife, Leelaben Gogla* was also positively tested for HIV. Luckily she was the only one who was infected.

Being a fighter, Leelaben refused to fall apart. She picked up courage and with her head up in the air she was ready to support her family. She has been trained to become a peer educator and now educates people about HIV.

* Names changed to maintain confidentiality
Losing a calf could bring him to his knees

Bapurao Kumare, a resident farmer of Bhendavi village owned a calf. It was his only wealth because he lived on the periphery of a forest. The nearest veterinary hospital was over 12 km away and that too did not guarantee timely service or availability of a doctor.

When Bapurao’s calf took seriously ill, he feared he would lose his prized possession. Knowing that travelling to the veterinary hospital would in all probability be a waste of time, he rushed to ACF for help. The veterinary at ACF immediately rushed to Bapurao’s help. He made a home visit, examined the calf and administered the requisite drugs. He waited to see if the calf showed any signs of recovery and when it didn’t, he administered another dose. This time the calf showed some response. Bapurao and the vet heaved a sigh of relief knowing that now the calf had overcome a life threatening situation. It would recover fully after proper care and rest.

Bapurao is grateful to ACF for the prompt help- the loss of his calf would have been unbearable. It would have destroyed his only hope for a future.

Community healthcare
Panvel, on the western coastline of Maharashtra receives a heavy monsoon which often results in stagnant water, clogged drains and an outbreak of epidemics like malaria. The situation took on grave proportions when almost all the families had at least 2 to 3 cases of malaria. There was need for swift action.

ACF took on this challenge and collaborated with the Terna Medical college to organise mass screening. To prevent further spread of the epidemic, fumigation of drains and garbage dumps was undertaken in all the five villages. Meetings and information sharing sessions were organised by the medical team. Villagers were educated about cleanliness, garbage disposal and prevention of drain clogging.

These immediate steps along with provision of medical treatment saved many lives. The collaborative action of ACF, Terna MedicalCollege and the villagers was the key to nipping a potential medical disaster before it attained epidemic proportions.

Timely Intervention to the Rescue

Sakhubhai Sidam, a resident of Mangi village, Maharashtra, was expecting her 7th child. Till now all the children she had borne had died soon after birth. This fact was extremely distressing for her and her family. They really wanted a child and were pinning their hopes on this pregnancy.

Ashatai, a VHF in the village was aware of the medial history of Sakhubhai and knowing her high-risk status, tracked her progress closely through out the pregnancy. Ashatai arranged for a trained dai (midwife) for the delivery and was herself present as well. In spite of the best efforts of Ashatai, the baby born was grossly underweight, weighing a mere 800 gms. Seeing the child, Ashatai immediately swung into action. She knew essential prompt medical care was required in this situation. She placed the infant on a warm bag to stabilise his body temperature. For the next month, Ashatai regularly monitored his health and conducted five examinations. She also spent time with Sakhubai and enlightened her on simple and practical ways to look after her child.

When the infant’s health was reviewed after a month and it was found that his weight had increased to 3.3 kgs. Timely intervention by the VHF saved the life of the infant, which otherwise would have been lost for lack of adequate medical information and intervention. “The child is very healthy today”, says a beaming Sakhubai.

Trainee Turned Trainer

This is a small story about Sunita Thipe from Lakhamapur village, Maharashtra. She took tailoring lessons in 2004, which was intended to instill confidence and economic independence for the women. With this training she began stitching garments for people in her village. Then she decided she wanted to do something more. She found out that an increasing number of women and girls in her village wanted to take tailoring lessons from a class in Gadchandur, which was around 8 km away. So Sunita decided to start a tailoring center of her own.

She got all the support she needed from her family, who even gave her a room to set up shop. Sunita made a deal with ACF to sell her a few of their second-hand sewing machines at 50% of their original value.

Approximately two years later, Sunita is doing very well and has a centre with four machines. She charges a decent fee of Rs. 100 per month per trainee, and has already trained two batches of 20 students. Now ACF has appointed her as trainer for a new training centre at another village, a contract for Rs. 2,000/- per month.

SEDI: Enhancing livelihoods

For 19 years old Chitra Patil, from Vallap village in Panvel, life was a constant challenge. Being the eldest in the family, she grew up sacrificing little and sometimes big things for her younger siblings. Her father who is vada pav stall owner had to support a family of 5 people with a meager income. Chitra understood the family issues even though her father never expressed his worries. She wished to take a career which would interest her and make her financially secure to support her family.

It was during this time that she attended a meeting by SEDI facilitators in her village. Keen to know more, she visited the centre and was explained in detail about the various courses like hardware, mobile repair, tally, and beauty course. Just like any girl, the beauty industry attracted her the most. After knowing in detail about the course, and discussing the same with her parents, she decided to take the plunge.

Attending the first day of class, she knew she had made the right decision. The best part about the course for Chitra was that it was more of practical work than just listening to lectures. She got hands on experience on doing various beauty and hair treatments. In Chitra’s words “The fun element was doing the treatments on friends and we learned a lot as we got instant feedback.”. The training also extended to handling clients, computers and basic English. The personality development sessions groomed her for the profession.

Chitra’s teachers were happy with her performance. She was quick to grasp concepts and delivered service effectively and efficiently. After the completion of the course, Chitra worked in a parlour for 3 months. But she craved to do more. Finally, she opened her own parlour in January 2012 in the vicinity. Even though beginning with a small income, she is on the road to become financially independent.

Chitra and many students like her have benefitted from short term courses run at SEDI- Skill and Entrepreneurship Development Institutes at Panvel, Maharashtra.

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