In Karur District, Tamil Nadu, the average mother earns less than 63p a day. Many of these women have to support two children with this little money. This is made harder by the fact that many of these women are widowed, divorced or destitute, and therefore have to care for their children alone. Furthermore, very often the children they are supporting suffer with mental disabilities. On top of all this, when the mothers are able to find work, it tends to only be seasonally available. This makes providing a reliable, steady life, as well as good healthcare for their children, something extremely difficult.
Our partners SNEKITHI have identified a sustainable method of helping these mothers support their families. Over a 12 month period, 30 women will be trained in sustainable horticultural techniques and will receive a loan to invest in their small landholdings in order to generate income. They will grow crops and vegetables, which they will be able to sell at local markets, whilst also keeping some for themselves. Through this training and investment, the project aims to increase their daily earnings twofold, as well as providing an additional source of food for the family from their landholdings.
Despite only being in operation for 6 months, the effects of the project have already been felt. Average incomes have risen to £2.11 per day; a remarkable increase. In addition to this, the vegetables that their landholdings now provide are valued at about 33p a day. The effect of a three or fourfold increase in individual earnings is hard to overstate. Healthcare and public transport are becoming affordable, likewise is schooling for children. Despite this, healthcare still remains a concern; the nearest healthcare centre is Seppalapatti, which is a 3-7km journey away. Though this problem is not directly overcome by the increase in family income, greater financial breathing room for the mothers gives them the choice to use public transportation to get to healthcare centres, thereby making healthcare an option once more.
The Knock-on Effect
Whilst the quality of life of those involved in the project has immediately improved, each mother also helps sustain the project for future years and therefore for future project participants. By paying back a small amount of their earnings at a time, they are able to repay the initial loans, thereby freeing up capital for Tzedek and SNEKITHI to continue running the project in Karur district.