Chandu Bhai, a resident of Nani Govindi village of Gujarat’s Sabarkantha district hails from a family of traditional healers. Three years back when his father passed away it was a natural choice for Chandu to continue the family practice.
“The villagers have immense faith in Chandu Bhai’s healing abilities. Further, he is regarded as the most authentic source of information for health related queries. I cross his house everyday on my way to work. One day I shared pictures of Severe Acute Malnourishment (SAM) affected children with him and requested him to alert me if he ever came across one,” said Mahesh, the Cluster Resource Person of the NGO working in the area.
When Ramesh and Sapna came to Chandu with their ailing 18 month old, Rihaan, Chandu noticed marked similarities between the pictures shown by Mahesh and Rihaan’s condition. “I performed my rituals during their first visit but I also notified Mahesh Bhai. I had attended the training conducted for healers at the Mamlatdar Office in Khedbrahma where we were told about Malnutrition and I realized that in addition to our traditional techniques, medical attention was essential for full recovery. I understand that I have the power to influence the health seeking behavior of the villagers.”
Chandu Bhai’s prompt action facilitated Mahesh’s meeting with the parents and on Chandu’s reassurance Rihaan underwent the 14 day treatment at the block Child Malnutrition Treatment Centre (CMTC). Two years old Rihaan is now healthy. The parents are grateful to Chandu as are the CMTC service providers.
Anandiben Mogajibhai Patel, the former Sarpanch of Laxmipura, is a guiding force and beacon of hope for all aspiring women leaders. Laxmipura is a village with a population of 4500 in Gujarat’s tribal district Sabarkantha where Anandiben served as a Sarpanch between 2012-16. The only woman and graduate among the six candidates who contested for the post, her victory was a landmark as it initiated positive trends in all women and children centric welfare schemes.
Right after taking office, she approached the ICDS Block Supervisor for release of funds to repair and improve the infrastructure in all the seven Aangnwadis under her jurisdiction. She regularized mid-day meals and personally supervised the distribution of Bal Bhog. “I followed up on the activities of the VHND sessions and ensured two monthly sessions in all seven Aanganwadi centres (AWCs). There were five underweight children in one of the Aanganwadis and we did regular counseling and follow-up meetings with the parents until all five recovered. Although, literacy is not low in Laxmipura, awareness on basic nutrition practices is missing. I am a woman and I know how nutrition affects the overall health of mothers and children. Therefore nutrition was my key priority” shared Anandiben. Rekhaben, an Aanganwadi worker, who regularly seeks Anandiben’s guidance, said “We still go to her when we need to counsel resistant parents; her goodwill in the community helps us reach out to everyone. Even though she is not the Sarpanch anymore she resolves our woes and difficulties deftly. We have found a new sense of purpose and motivation under her able leadership and now we will take forward her good work.”
Valiben, a 30 year old widow, lives in Kalol. At the age of 32 years her husband died and the responsibility as the bread winner for herself and of her two children came upon her. Initially, it was a big challenge in her life. After marriage, Parmar Valiben had a number of dreams to fulfill with her husband. Both husband and wife used to live their lives happily. Her husband used to work in a Mill (Factory), and used to earn Rs. 3,500 to 4,000 per month. Suddenly her husband died in an accident. It was a very pathetic situation for Valiben and her children.
After her husband’s death, Valiben started to get widow pension of Rs. 660 per month under the widow pension scheme of Social Defence Office of the Government, but it was very difficult for her to run the house with such minimum source of income. She said that "When I was passing through such situation I received a letter from NLRDF for participating in a training. It was the turning point in my life. The training helped me to understand about entrepreneurship and also came to know about different Government schemes". The training helped Valiben to generate self confidence in her; she learnt communication skills, market linkages and business skills. She received a kit from the Government and started her tea stall.
Initially, it was very difficult for her to run a tea stall because of the attitude of her society. When she used to sit at tea stall people from her community, relatives, neighbors used to mock at her. She said, "but I decided to be firm and strong and to continue my work". Later Valiben got a loan of Rs. 10,000 from Dena Bank, Kalol under Bajpai Yojna of the Government that helped her to expand her work. Valiben says that she spends Rs. 50 to 70 per day for preparing tea and earns about Rs. 150 per day. Earlier she used to get Rs. 1,100 but after the training received by NLRDF now she earns Rs. 4,500 per month. She is also involved in Sakhi Mandal and saves Rs. 50 per month. Now Valiben earns good income and run her house.
Meenaben comes from economically lower class family from Kathlal. When Meenaben’s husband died, women of SHG helped Meenaben to avail the benefits of widow pension scheme of Social Defence Department of government. Meenaben applied for the scheme and now she gets pension of Rs. 580 monthly. Meenaben lived very comfort and good life at her father’s house. She married at the age of 18. Her husband was engaged with labour work and also had fruit lari (a hand-pushed cart). Her husband died due to heart attack at the age of 32. Meenaben had responsibility of her two daughters and two sons. Earlier Meenaben used to go to a hospital to cook food. She used to get Rs. 500 and pension.
Through her friends Meenaben came to know about Niradhar Vidhava Arthik Punahsthapan Yojana a scheme of Government, and understood about the enterpreneual skills. After getting training from NLRDF, Meenaben started a trade of cold drink and water at her brother-in-law’s shop. The training helped Meenaben to run soda/cold drink shop, she learnt different methods of making cold drink, maintaining accounts. After the training she got a kit which contained lorry, umbrella, box etc. She got a loan of Rs. 18,000 from Bank of India, and purchased soda making machine. She runs her shop at Kathlal chokdi. She said that "I earn more than Rs.7,000 per month". During summer 4 to 5 months she earns good. She made her daughters to study and got her daughtes to marry. Her sons now study computer hardware and software. Beginning was very challenging and difficult for Meenaben. Many people ignored her but she struggled and made good business.
Surajba Ranjitsingh Rathod is 30 years old widow, lives in Moyad village of Prantij Taluka of Sabarkantha District. Presently she does tailoring work, and earns Rs. 8,000 to 10,000 monthly. She has an eight year old son who studies in school. At the age of 22 years, she got married with Ranjitsingh, who was doing tailoring work. Due to HIV and AIDS her husband died at the age of 25 years. It was very difficult for her to sustain family after her husband’s death.
But the entrepreneurship training she received by the NLRDF her to develop new business skills, knowledge and learning. After the training she had to invest for getting raw materials and machines for business. She did hard work for that. She now earns Rs. 250 per day. She herself trains other women for tailoring, she takes Rs. 400 for teaching.
The business gave her good status, reputation and respect in the society. She also learnt to keep accounts. She has a dream for her son to get good education.
Niruben Rameshbhai Jitiya is 30 years old widow, lives in Surat. Presently she has a shop of anaj kariyana (Grocery) and tiffin service, and earns Rs. 8,000 to 10,000 monthly. She has 8 years old son who studies in school. When she got married, she was 18 years old. She got married with Rameshbhai, who was doing nothing. She was doing labour work. Her husband died during stone operation at the age of 21 years. Her husband was infected with AIDS. Because of her husband she is also infected with AIDS. After her husband’s death, she did not had any support from anyone. But with hope she joined the Entrepreneurship Development Program with the help of NLRDF. The training helped her to develop new business skills, knowledge and learning. After the training, she started the small provision store.
In the beginning she faced many difficulties in maintain her business. She was earning Rs. 2,000 monthly. Now she earns Rs.8,000 to Rs.10,000 per month. She can do her work very well.
Kalaji Bhikhabhai is a laborer and belongs to Sabalvad village. Due to lack of education, he was doing labor work. Kalaji was given work under MGNREGA in his village. He was getting Rs. 15,000 for 100 days in MGNREGA and besides he was earning Rs. 3,000 by mason work. So average he was earning Rs. 18,000 to 20,000 in a year.
During this MGNREGA programme, Kalaji participated in the mason training that was conducted by NLRDF with the support of DRDA, Sabarkantha. During the training he learnt both theoretical aspect and practical approach on construction work. This made him more skilled and systematic in his work. After the training he received a certificate and a kit. After the training Kalaji started mason work in his village and applied all the skills he learnt in the training. He worked with master mason in panel which made him more experienced. After this he was encouraged and confident, so he took his own contract and completed his work. Now he takes his own work and earns Rs. 350 to 400 per day. He gets work at least for 15 to 20 days in a month. He earns Rs. 7,000 to 8,000 per month.
Kamlaben comes from very poor family where there are 6 members in the family and her brother is a drunkard and her sister-in-law is at home only and not helping. Kamlaben’s husband was unemployed and was involved in anti-social activities and was a drunkard. Finally she took divorc, but she had to pay Rs. 50,000 to her father-in-law and mother-in-law. She had to do labor work and she was tired of labor work, so finally she decided to work as commercial sex worker (CSW). In this situation, NLRDF gave Kamlaben an opportunity as PE, Khedbrahma and she started to earn Rs. 1,500 per month, and also she was getting some extra work. NLRDF with the support of Gujarat Mahila Arthik Vikas, Gandhinagar provided training to such women. Kamlaben took a training of tailoring and cutting for two months. She learnt tailoring and designing in the training. After the training she got Rs. 2,000 as stipend and also a certificate. After the training Kamlaben put a thought before NLRDF that it is better if NLRDF help them to utilize Rs. 2,000 stipend. So NLRDF accepted that condition and with contribution of Rs. 2,000 of women, NLRDF added Rs. 2,100 and purchased machine for women. This condition helped women very much in their business. Now she earns more than Rs. 3,000 monthly and also she gets Rs. 1,500 as PE from the organization.