Dear Friends of Vayam (Pune),
More than a month has passed since we all contributed old clothes. The clothes reached Nashik fine, but due to heavy rains – the village women could not come to Nashik and they were too busy farming in paddy fields. We arranged to keep the clothes in two places in Nashik and then arranged a mock bargain. Three women from the village came to those places and our friends there (not known to the women) bargained before selling the clothes to women. The women became choosy in picking the clothes as they were buying them. They finally picked clothes worth Rs. 660.
Our latest update is that they have sold more than half of the clothes and have earned Rs. 670 (thus paying back the advance they took from their Self-Help Group). This was the third lot they have sold, the earlier two sales had fetched them Rs. 385 and Rs. 200. There is an emerging issue of what to do with unsold clothes. It is difficult to preserve the clothes in dry state. Our volunteers on this project are thinking of arranging a “Godhadi” making training for the women. We are likely to need sewing machines for this endeavour. One of our Pune friends, Suvarna Uplap has offered to teach the women Godhadi-designs that are popular in urban households (Miniature Godhadis to be used as wall-pieces or table-mats).
We have noticed that there is a huge demand for Sarees, but we have not collected enough sarees. Salwar-Kurta is not getting many customers (Jui and Manik may work on convincing the women!). The selling prices have gone up as the neighboring villages are already aware of this Shop here! (The current rates are: Saree @ 25, Shirt/Pant @ 15, Kids clothes @ 7.5, Sweater @ 35. Any buyers here?)
The goal of our project is not supporting one enterprise. We are expecting the women to find their own ways of collecting the clothes from next season. The basic theme of “Building Community Resilience” is creating a matrix of livelihoods where each participant family has at least two independent sources of livelihood. We have hence moved ahead to more enterprises by the same group.
Making, packing, and selling of Rajgeera Laddus is the second enterprise that this Self-Help Group (named as “Anjani Mata SHG” by the women). We arranged an initial buyer for this business. Our volunteers are managing a Malnutrition Prevention programme by Rotary Club of Nashik. We convinced Rotary to give boiled eggs and Rajgeera Laddus in their everyday distribution. This Rotary programme buys approx. 840 Laddus per month. The other market that this group has run in is Pilgrims circumventing Trimbakeshwar. Every Shravan-Somwar, there is a Pradakshina of Brahmagiri mountain (Trimbakeshwar) and hundreds of people walk the route. This route is 3 km away from our village (Patryachapada). Last Monday, three women from this group walked with baskets of Laddus and sold 200 Laddus in 2 hours. They have now understood the potential of this Monday market and they are planning more than a 1000 Laddus for next three Mondays.
We have convinced a Book-shop merchant in Nashik to use Paper bags made of Raddi-paper. The SHG has picked four teenage girls and our volunteers have trained them in making Paper bags from Raddi paper (collected from our friends in Nashik.) Well, we are not likely to ask Pune people to donate their Raddi!!! This enterprise is new and we are still working out if the Group can make this sustainable. We have an initial order of 2000 bags.
The group has also bagged a Government assignment. They are cooking meals (Khichdi) for Government Anganwadi. Two women spend two hours everyday to cook this. They get Rs. 300 a month.
Our next target is going to be ecology conservation. This we will start within next month.
This is all about our project: Building Community Resilience. There are two other projects that we are working on.
1. TEDI (Tribal Entrepreneurs Development Initiative)
2. Hi (Health Independence)
TEDI picks talented tribal youth and supports them to become entrepreneurs and leaders. Our first pick: Jairam Toke has passed our talent tests (based on farming and marketing skills) and his first enterprise is likely to start in December. He is located in village Kogda (Taluka Jawhar, District Thane).
Hi has chosen Six villages in Jawhar Taluka of Thane District. We have formed Youth groups (called Vayam Arogya Mandal) in these villages. They shall document in their own language (Warli, Kokna, Thakur etc.) their knowledge of trees and forest-medicines. They will collect this knowledge from their fathers and grandfathers. The Six villages shall come together and share their knowledge. Ayurvedic doctors shall find references from Ayurved of the medicinal values of these trees and support/improvise/correct the local knowledge. One young Ayurvedic doctor Dr. Anant Patil (Pune) has volunteered to stay in those villages (two weeks every month). Dr. Ashwini Deokule (MD, Ayurved) from Pune shall support Anant with her knowledge. We have also received support from some elderly local healers, this will be the first time they will bring their knowledge in community domain.
Though we have initiated the work in Six villages, we are sure of rapid progress in two villages, viz. VakichamaaL and Patilpada. This project is later going to convince people to plant the most vital medicinal trees around their houses. This will help the village reduce expenses on medicines and will take a step towards Health Independence.
Tasks for Pune (and other) friends:
1. We are going to need more clothes (Sarees preferably). So start fwds 🙂
2. We will need Sewing machines for Godhadi-making
3. We are planning a website for Vayam
4. We need to print Vayam’s stickers (for the Paper bags and other products)
Well, we are grateful you read this llllong update. Now time to view some pictures from the field…