Women of Self Help Groups were eagerly waiting for the 19th and 20th of May as these dates were scheduled for wheat distribution. At an average 25 kilograms of wheat costs 2000 rupees in the market, an ordinary family stocks up about 250 to 300 kilograms of wheat for yearly consumption. It is an impossible task for slum folks to come up with the money that this requires. Four years back, before SHGs were formed, the people of Ramapir no Tekro purchased necessary food items on a daily basis. They could not afford to skip one day’s work as this could mean skipping food for the entire family. Such lifestyle has its roots in insecurity; when survival becomes a challenge, other aspects like health, education and social equality become peripheral.
Being a part of Self Help Groups has taken a huge burden off of the women of Ramapir no Tekro. Each member saves 200 rupees per month with SHGs which is returned to them, with interest, at the end of 2 years. This collective financial venture helps them with monetary issues; it has enabled them to purchase necessary household and kitchen items at lower rates and, most importantly, on installments. Moreover, they acquire loans from SHGs when needed.
It is due to this that slum folks who make as little as 150 rupees a day are now able to store wheat required for 6 to 12 months. The wheat distribution program held on 19th and 20th of May, 2017, was 5th of its kind in the last 3 months! Many members help their relatives by purchasing wheat on installments from Jeevantirth. Along with wheat a few members also purchased cooking oil.
The efficiency of our staff members like Minaxiben and Kamlesh bhai is to be lauded; while there was a nonstop queue and a boisterous gathering, they maintained a calm attitude. Each and every woman of SHG personally knows Minaxiben due to which they make unreasonable requests, she exercised her ability to discreetly talk the members out of such demands. Our volunteers stood outside, ready to help the slum-folks load up their pendal rickshaws.
The amount of wheat sold during this event more than doubled the amount sold in last event due to increase in number of SHG members. What began with 50 members has now reached 900 members. Women from faraway areas like Vasna, Mirzapur, Dariyapur, etc. have become participants, they came all the way to Vadaj to collect their wheat!