Empowering Women Series – What is your attitude when confronted with serious adversity?

In rural areas, where traditionally men are sole bread-earners, what does a woman do when tragedy strikes and she is left alone to fend for herself and her family. This is a story of one such woman Chandrakala and countless others like her who with some state assistance started a profitable vermi-compost initiative. Hope you enjoy the read.

1Chandrakala’s husband was electrocuted. Her brother-in-law, the sole bread-winner in the family, committed suicide. The events were enough to shatter her. Instead, Chandrakala scripted a success story — one which most women in the tiny village of Bewal are trying to emulate.

As president of a self-help group (SHG), Baba Anantpuri, Chandrakala, in her individual capacity, has manufactured and sold vermi-compost worth Rs 60,000 in one year. Her SHG, on the whole, has sold vermi-compost worth Rs 1.27 lakh within 15 months.

The SHG, comprising 20 women, is part of 33 such groups which have been constituted in select villages of Jatusana division under the Haryana Community Forestry Project (HCFP). ‘‘This project has not only made us financially independent but has also given us the confidence to do things on our own,’’ Chandrakala says.

2This is how it all happened. ‘‘As part of the project, our SHG was provided training to make vermi-compost. We were given a grant of Rs 2,500 by the Forest Department to buy earthworms and start making compost,’’ Chandrakala says. Since then, her group has sold 200 quintals of vermi-compost to clients ranging from the Forest Department to zamindars. ‘‘Last year, the sale of worms itself fetched Rs 24,000,’’ she says. As far as leftover is concerned, she says, “We can use it in our fields as it would greatly cut our costs for buying urea.’’

Chandrakala is not alone. Ask Santosh from the same village and she will tell you how her SHG, Bawalia, started making soap on a small scale and earned handsome rewards. Or meet Vinod Devi, who leads a SHG called Mukteshwari, in village Bhurthala. ‘‘We identified duree-galicha-making as our income-generating activity and can already see the difference it has made to our lives,’’ she says. ‘‘As a result of this project, a feeling of cooperation has emerged,’’ says Ranjit Singh of Bewal. ‘‘Now, cutting across caste and gender, everybody participates in the decision-making process,’’ he adds.