By Shital Pawar, Impact Team — Rang De
Bahadarpur is a small village in Parola Block of Jalgaon District, Maharashtra. After a night long journey from Pune, I and my colleague Hitesh reached the place to spend two days with the community. Like many other villages in the region, Bahadarpur also suffers issues of frequent drought, lack of irrigation and load shedding for almost 12 hours every day but in spite of all the difficulties, Bahadarpur is on a dedicated journey towards reaching complete self-reliance. This has definitely not happened overnight! The efforts of Ms. Nilima Mishra — the Ramon Magsaysay award winner — and her team of Bhagini Nivedita Gramin Vigyan Niketan (BNGVN) has been facilitating this.
In a country like India where society has been ruled and defined by patriarchy, Bahadarpur has a different story to share. When we walked through the village, I observed that many women had grouped themselves and were engaged in various livelihood activities like papad making, tailoring of various apparels while others were busy selling clothes, groceries and papads among many other products in stores. They have taken leads of their lives and finances in their hands. All these women were either associated with a Self Help Group (SHG) or a Joint Liability Group (JLG), supported by BNGVN.
We visited different community initiatives like- ‘Papad Making Unit’ & ‘Ready-made Garment Unit’ which are being funded by Rang De and ‘Kurta Making Unit’ & ‘Quilt Making Unit’ where Rang De is looking forward to pitch in. In each project, we were guided and informed about everything by women members of the SHGs. These women were confident and had exceptional knowledge and understanding of their group, business initiatives apart from the general know-how of the business.
One of these projects that struck me by awe was the ‘Ready-made Garment Unit’ that is supported by Rang De and has provided livelihood opportunities to not just one JLG but many more women in the nearby villages. This unit buys clothes in bulk from Punjab, Ahmedabad and Mumbai and gives them in credit to the local women to sell in their villages. The profit margins are good, hence opening up multiple employment opportunities.
Story of Shobha
Shobha Patil is one of the many retailers of the ‘Ready-made Garment Unit’. She has a retail outlet supported by Sakhi (Ready-made Garment Unit) in a nearby village- Jirali. A widow and mother of two daughters (who are married now), Shobha, conducts stitching classes for young girls from the village too. She feels independent and confident. She started this outlet with a little support and then slowly took complete control of things. It has also helped her bring home additional income every month. She manages to earn a marginally high profit during the festive seasons. Shobha has taken the initiative to motivate few more women from the nearby villages to sell the clothes that are from the unit supported by Sakhi JLG. Shobha and women like her are setting examples and inspiring lives in and around their villages.
This was my first field trip as a Rang De team member. I spent 2 years of my post graduation in TISS studying ‘Community Organization and Development Practice’ and nothing could have been better than this to experience the learning in practice. Looking forward to attend more of these visits to many more impact partners of Rang De across the country.