Badly affected by last year’s floods, women from scheduled tribes in Cuddalore district in Tamil Nadu are being helped by our impact partner Rural Education and Action for Liberation(REAL) who helps them get access to affordable microcredit every month.
In our recent visit in November, we visited 12 villages and met 41 borrowers working as goat rearers, banana cultivators, cashew de-shellers, cattle rearers among many other professions and we saw great solidarity in the region.
Hundreds of women from this area apply for Rang De loans every month. Working for long hours in the fields as labourers as well, these women carry out multiple activities to earn just under Rs 4k per month.
These women work together in self-help groups and stand by each other in tough times.
They told us about how a liquor shop in the area was once causing problems as husbands usually came home drunk. They approached the authorities as one and ensured the shop was shut down.
It might seem like a simple problem but such unity and the ability to bring about change was unthinkable in rural Tamil Nadu not even a decade back.
The women also contribute small savings to a common fund which they use to educate their children.
These villages were badly affected by the floods at the end of 2015. A majority of the villages were cut off from external contact and houses and shops had been washed away.
Radha, an elderly grocery shop owner, invited us into her shop and told us how items were destroyed or washed away. When the water receded, Radha was left with no source of income and, alongside her husband, she had to work as a labourer despite her old age in order to earn money.
It was only when we helped her get a low-cost loan that she was able to rebuild her shop.
Even though these women were raised in poverty and struggle to make ends meet, they know the value of education.
Tamilselvi, who rears goats for a living, borrowed money from relatives and from her SHG to educate her sons who are currently pursuing an engineering course in a nearby city. Since her goats are young, she cannot sell them for their meat so she whatever she can as a labourer to ensure that her sons’ education is not affected (the rates are naturally much higher).
Nature might wreak havoc with its inconstant moods but the hope for a better future anchors these families across flood-hit Cuddalore.
Impact team members Kavya, Manjita and Srividya visited REAL in November 2016
We regularly carry out field trips to ensure that Rang De loans are making the desired impact on the poor communities that we seek to empower. You can see the upcoming field trips on our Field Trip calendar and join us or you can sign up for audio evaluations by filling up a form here.
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