About Our Me to WE Project
An update of what they are doing:
D&D Leasing is supporting programming in a community called Kalinjar, located 70km from Udaipur with a population of around 900 people. WE started working with Kalinjar in early 2018. WE’s partnership with Kalinjar began when a 53-year-old farmer named Bhura saw the work WE had done with a neighbouring village called Barind and encouraged other elders in the community to connect with WE (learn more here). The charity aims to improve access to education, clean water, healthcare, food and, with the support of D&D Leasing, income opportunities, especially for women.
Most community members in Kalinjar are small-scale farmers, growing primarily maize on small plots of fragmented land. The livelihood of community members is largely at the mercy of the annual monsoon rains. Many community members also work as unskilled labourers earning about $2 per day to supplement their income. Often, children must help to support household finances, which prevents them from attending school. Women are especially marginalised due to extremely low personal incomes. D&D will be supporting programming in Kalinjar which will helps to address these challenge by donating towards what WE’s “Opportunity Pillar” of WE Villages.
With the support of community leaders, WE have helped form a women’s group (or Self Help Group) with 8 members that will work together to develop income-generating activities. WE will help facilitate group meetings, establish formal roles and deliver training on animal husbandry, health and hygiene and financial literacy – in 2018 the group had a total of 16 meetings. Meetings help strengthen relationships among the members through the sharing of experiences and informal discussions.
As part of the programme, the women will be provided with goats and support (i.e. veterinary visits and training on animal husbandry such as breeding cycles) to run small businesses. All the women will each receive five selectively bred goats and the training to rear them. Sirohi goats, nicknamed “supergoats,” are the high-achieving cousins of the local breed. Supergoats grow faster, produce more milk and more offspring—one goat produces one litre per day, and pregnant females usually give birth to twins. The milk surplus and the offspring can be sold. WE employs a local vet, Raju Singh, to accompany the women on their goat-buying trip. The group plans to make the journey to a breeder in a nearby city soon. They have all received materials to build goat sheds and have completed building their own sheds ahead of receiving the animals.
Overtime Group savings will be established. The group took steps to set up a bank account towards the end of 2018. To open the account, the application form from the bank was collected and a resolution was passed by all 8 members to open a savings account in the name of the group and the by-laws prepared by the team’s facilitators. All the 8 members are depositing a small weekly amount. This small but regular contribution is helping to increase their group saving over time.
Group members will start participating in workshops covering topics such as the importance of saving and teamwork. As the group matures and gains confidence, they will move onto more advanced areas such as budgeting and investment options. For these women, the impact of higher earnings, coupled with knowledge gained from training, will increase their decision-making power and decrease the need for children to work instead of going to school.
The Self Help Group programme is also the launch point for WE’s health outreach and education awareness, reaching the same women who rear the goats. Smokeless chullahs, stoves with chimneys, are offered as an alternative to the traditional model—one burner over an open fire in a small room without ventilation. Children are highly vulnerable to respiratory illness from air pollutants, as are their mothers, who are the ones cooking all day. Stomach issues are also common here. The new chullahs are stoves with two burners. Women are able to boil water on the stove before drinking, a purification process that limits waterborne illness and diarrheal disease, a leading cause of death for children under the age of five. All eight women have had a smokeless chullah installed in their household.
Over the coming years, WE will be introducing a range of additional projects into the community, including building new classrooms, rehabilitating water systems and latrines, supporting the local health centre, and working with farmers to increase crop yields. WE is currently building two new classrooms at the local school to replace the current ones which are dark, unventilated, cramped, leaky and unfurnished.