Helping hand

Print edition : July 27, 2007

At a cr?che in Donabanda.-At a cr�che in Donabanda.

RANI is no longer worried about who will take care of her six-year-old son when she goes for work, or teach him the alphabet. A crche, opened by the Village Organisation (VO) that consists of 18 self-help groups (SHGs) in her Donabanda village, has come as a welcome relief for working mothers like her. Rani's is one of a hundred families that work in stone quarries at Donabanda near Ibrahimpatnam, about 30 km from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh.

Officials of the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) helped the SHGs form a VO, which was given a corpus of Rs.4 lakh. This is loaned to SHG members. With a portion of the profits, the VO leaders have initiated a number of activities, the foremost being crches and special schools.

Donabanda VO president V. Sirisha is happy the way women working in stone quarries are making use of the crche. The creche is just one of the many ways in which the SHGs in Krishna district provides relief to poor women.

The VO at G. Kondur has opened a school for the deaf and dumb. Two special teachers have been recruited for classes one to five. There are 20 children in the school. Bathula Neelima, a teacher at a school for poor children at Ibrahimpatnam, receives Rs.500 a month But she says she gets immense satisfaction from her job. "I have studied up to Intermediate. After marriage, I stopped my studies. I take this opportunity to serve the poor," she says.

The women's involvement in the SHG movement has increased; 2,400 SHGs were formed in the past three months from April to June. This is in addition to the 35,148 groups functioning as on March 31, 2007. There were only 20,226 groups on March 31, 2005.

District Collector Navin Mittal says the credit linkage to SHG groups has seen a rapid rise in the past few years. From Rs.41.37 crore in 2004-05 it went up to Rs.85.79 crore the next year, and to Rs.169.2 crore by March 31, 2007. "In the current financial year (2007-08), we have set a credit linkage target of Rs.300 crore and want to take the figure to Rs.500 crore by the end of 2008-09," he said.

All the VOs in a mandal, a revenue unit in the administrative system in Andhra Pradesh, are formed into a Mandal Mahila Samakhya (MMS), which plays a crucial role in the activities of the SHGs. Krishna district boasts 1,549 VOs and 49 MMSs for all the 49 rural mandals.

The SHGs have taken up a wide range of activities such as procuring maize and paddy; opening grain banks; distributing pensions; taking up dairying, and health, nutrition and disability programmes; and fighting against domestic violence and child marriages.

G. Ravikiran

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