Remote communities in West Bengal struggle to feed their families. Parents living in extreme poverty often tend to sell their children or marry them at an early age to earn money. UNICEF reported that West Bengal is one of the Indian states with the highest incidence of child marriage. Child labour and child trafficking is a real concern. Additionally, these communities face several problems such as lack of access to health care and education. Most of the families’ income depends on agriculture, which is highly seasonal and irregular. Migration to neighbouring cities such as Delhi and Chennai in search for work is also is a serious issue.

The project

This project with our third time partner ERDS aims at providing woollen stitch and bamboo craft training to a group of fifty women from two different tribal communities aged 18-35. After the training, the women will receive loans to start a business as part of a micro-credit system.

Impact

It is expected that the women’s average daily income will significantly increase from £1 to £1.85. By adopting modern methods of crafting, their productivity will be further enhanced thus increasing their average income. Overall, the project will have a positive impact on the whole community. The small interest and admission fee the women are paying back to ERDS will fund the next lot of training.

A day in the life of a Beneficiary

Basanti Mahali comes from a very poor family living in the Ekandor village, in West Bengal. Her husband is a rural artisan and he used to make Bamboo craft and sell it in various fairs across West Bengal. Basanti also earns a small income by working on the fields sometimes when she does not have to take care of her own family. The family also earns money from renting a half acre of farm land but they are still extremely poor and don’t even have toilets. Basanti wants to join the training programme to be able to support her husband and afford a toilet with the money she will save.