Seeing change, thank you!
"I have never seen change in my life, but for the first time I am seeing change!"
This is what the families from Jamal pur village in Uttar Pradesh, India, shared with me when I visited them in November. They were strong, determined and ready for more change.
I wanted to share their story to show the impact your support has had this year, and to thank you on behalf of the families in Jamal Pur, for giving them the opportunity to change their situation and tackle the poverty they face so their children don't have to suffer as they have.
I was given a warm welcome as we sat on the floor of the village meeting point, where women now come together every month.
They told me that before the project, they felt isolated and struggled to provide for their children – they tried to grow food for as many months as they could, but with their husbands having to migrate to get work they were left to support the family alone. They had no access to income or opportunities to earn.
Their village is also far from the nearest town or road so they rarely left, and received no information or access to vital services such as healthcare (and after travelling for hours in a vehicle to reach them, it really is remote!)
But now, they come together every month and the project supports them to discuss the challenges they face, find solutions and gain information on government services and schemes which they are entitled to but just never knew about.
"I have learnt a lot now we are interacting with each other. There were no services before, we were deprived of everything - we were not united so our problems remained in our family, but we now come together. I can now go to government officials, I can organise my points and speak out to talk about sanitation and toilets for the village, and in 2-3 month hopefully they will come."
They have received training on agriculture to help them grow more food and make homemade fertilisers like compost so they don't have to buy expensive chemicals. This has also lead to them farming aloe vera which they can sell on.
Importantly, they now have access to credit and the opportunity to earn an income. Together, they are saving 50 INR each month (50p) into the group fund and using this to borrow from. Previously they had to go to exploitative money lenders or sell their belongings, but now they can access money and invest it in activities such as buying a buffalo to sell its milk, or opening a small shop to earn an income
They eagerly told me that the whole group had been able to benefit, and that they are spending what income they have on education for their children and to buy better food to help improve their family's nutrition.
So, thank you for helping us to bring change to Jamal pur village – they are seeing real change for the first time and it is having a huge impact on the families there. They now have the opportunities to tackle the poverty they face and build a better future for their children. Jessica Ridgewell.
Just £12.50 could provide a women in a village like Jamal Pur, with the skills they need to start small businesses such as buying goats and chickens to help their family earn an income.
You can help us to give more women this opportunity in 2015 and DONATE NOW. Thank you.