The story of Rajasthan Mahila Kalyan Mandal Sanstha (RMKM) began in a small moment of action by one man.
In 1975, Sagar Mal Kaushik worked with the Indian railways in Ajmer. A holy town, tourists flocked to Ajmer in vast numbers and a flash flood in July that year trapped nearly 250 families in low-lying areas around the precincts of the Ajmer Dargah.
Without any affiliation to non-governmental organisations or disposable personal resources of his own, Sagar Mal Kaushik knocked on the doors of his neighbours to mobilize food and clothing for these families. This act of compassion would lay the stone for a series of collaborations, causes and conscious efforts around Ajmer.
Kaushik officially established RMKM in 1987 beginning work with two of the most vulnerable factions of Rajasthan’s people — rural communities and persons with physical or mental disabilities.
Children with special needs are provided education and support by RMKM through inclusive schools, home-based rehabilitation and early intervention programs.
Healthcare services, particularly with regard to HIV/AIDS awareness and intervention, are also carried out on a regular basis.
RMKM also runs a college that provides bachelor’s degrees to students seeking to work in the field of disabilities.
It is in the area of livelihood promotion that RMKM seeks the help of the Rang De social investor community.
Goat-based livelihood enhancement programs have been active since 2012 with the support of the Jamshed Ji Tata Trust and technical support from The Goat Trust in Lucknow.
The Goat Trust helps train women to become Pashu Sakhis who help disseminate information about healthcare and marketing. Goat rearing groups have been formed to provide a platform where de-worming and goat induction are discussed and animal health camps are regularly conducted.
Thirteen community based saving groups have been established covering 170 families in an attempt to instill a habit of saving among communities who previously had no financial savings whatsoever.
RMKM also runs a micro-finance program under which microloans have been lent to over 2,000 women who are members of self-help groups. Mainly active in Shreenagar and Silora near Ajmer, RMKM covers over 45 villages under this program. Self-help groups help promote savings and also provide access to affordable loans in the absence of formal credit services from banks.
Ajmer is a region that witnesses high migration due to dismal income generating opportunities. Most men depend on the marble cutting business working on daily wages. Agriculture is challenging as there has been an acute lack of water recently disintegrating traditional livelihood patterns.
Goat rearing is a sustainable alternative that provides a regular income.
We will soon begin to put up loan requests from members of these communities and we believe that affordable credit, combined with mentorship, will bring in gradual but sustainable change in disadvantaged households around Ajmer.
RMKM was inspired by the community development strategies of the Mahatma. Individual action was perhaps one of the most powerful tenets of that strategy practiced by the Mahatma himself.
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