One of our chief concerns during initiation of Jeevantirth was to make the women of Ramapir No Tekro self-dependent, to free them from the vicious cycle of rag-picking. In order to do this we began Self Help Groups in 2011. We began with 100 members and 1 SHG; this number increased to 700 members in 30 SHGs in 2017. We plan reach 1000 members by the end of 2017.
Earning daily wages to purchase daily food is what binds them to this cycle. In order to combat this we came up with plans that would enable them to stock up food on monthly or yearly basis. For this we provided them basic kitchen necessities like edible oil, grains, grams and lintels, salt, jaggery, etc. on easy monthly installments. Once they began gaining control over the situation they also requested us to provide them gas connections and stoves to be fully in charge of their kitchen. Being free from daily bondages the SHG members have given impetus to VTC and BSK where their teenage daughters and children have been enrolled. Six years after the initiation of SHGs we are happy to see that it has not only lead to self-dependency of the women, but also to self-dependency of SHGs!
On 10th Decemeber, 2016 we inaugurated ‘Aapni Dukaan’ which translates to ‘Our Store’. It is a store of, by and for the women. Its aim is to make available all the household necessities to the ladies of Ramapir no Tekro for 365 days a year. Until now we held camps every 2 to 3 months during which women of SHGs were provided with their needs. Having to provide for a large number of households enables us to purchase premium quality goods at wholesale rate; this cuts out the middle man and provides goods cheaper than the market rate. Moreover Aapni Dukaan will provide these goods at easy installment rates to the needy. The income generated by this venture will be used to further help SHGs, making them self-dependent.
It is a step forward for the slum folks towards freedom. We hope that the road keeps unfolding as it has done so far.