Vatsalya is becoming exceedingly active in economic empowerment activities for marginalized women. The need for it dawned on us a few years ago when we found that most of the children we cared for, came essentially from families where the mother was left alone to fend for herself and her children. Since she had no knowledge or skill for earning a livelihood, both she and her children were exposed to all kinds of exploitation and sufferings.
In last 9-10 years, we have trained over 4500 women in livelihood skills such as Kantha, Block printing, Natural Dyeing, Tailoring, etc. They are also keen on solar technology and organic farming which they insist on learning in their free time. Most of our artisans working on campus can drive a tractor, which they enjoy immensely.
Our major partners in this venture are Anchal, USA; iPartner, UK and Fullerton, India. It is a very successful program and a Vatsalya trained artisan earns anything between Rs.4000 to 12000 per month. Recently we came to know of yet another way in which these women are becoming more and more self-reliant. All our trainee artisans are encouraged to form Self-Help Groups (SHG*). Ten to fifteen women can form such a SHG and following the groups‟ constitution, they would agree to certain terms and conditions and on a monthly basis, put a certain amount of money in their group‟s personal „bank‟. One such group, operating from our campus in Achrol has accumulated over 100,000 Rupees – an absolutely unimaginably privileged situation for women in poor rural areas of India! We have come to know that this group is now providing loans to the men- folk in their community who return it back with interest. This story is inspiring many more of our trainee artisans who are eager to form their own SHG now.
* SHG is a very beneficial scheme introduced by the government to empower women in rural areas. These groups get benefits from many welfare schemes and also can take loans from the bank.