Women in Andhra Pradesh, India, are often trapped by their employers by accepting loan they cannot afford to repay. This is a type of slavery – bonded labour. The women are forced to work for the ‘employer’ and repay the debt which continues to mount with very high interest rates. Driven by poverty to seek work even bonded labour, they our driven further into poverty. It is a vicious cycle that is very hard to break. Shockingly bonded labour often crosses three generations without any chances of emancipation. In this situation how do you escape? Some of the women turned to prostitution even prostituting their children.
Tzedek’s partner Lourdu Matha Mahila Mandali (LMMM) created a buffalo rearing project that helps 105 Dalit women to escape their loans. Women are given an interest free loan to purchase buffaloes and all the resources to support to generate income from its milk and calves. The women also receive guidance on health, sanitation and nutrition. By creating an alternative income the women can pay off their ‘employer’ and then slowly over time repay the interest free loan to LMMM.
As bonded labourers the women earn around 80p daily, not enough to pay for the families food or repay the debt. With a buffalo and training in hand, the women earn an average £3.40 a day from selling milk, butter and cheese and later on from selling calves. We project that over 200 children will be freed to go to school. 100 families will be able to afford medicine, clothes and nutritional food.
The Knock-on Effect
The loan works as a revolving fund that the women will repay to LMMM, slowly over time. The money is then re-used to buy new buffalos for other women.
So when you fund the initial project you are actually funding women this year, and next year and the one after, and so on.
A Day in the Life of a Beneficiary
Prathipati Soujanya of Chebrolu village of Gunturhas has 3 chidlrens. She wakes up every day at 5am and cooks a daily meal. She then walks 1km to collect water from the well and then goes to work. She returns home by 4pm and cooks supper for her family. After that she makes sure the children are doing their homework and the family is gathered for supper. At 9pm she goes to bed.