A four year long drought continues in the Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh, India. This calamity is especially affecting the poor in rural areas. The drought leads to a lack of food in rural areas and there is a famine intensifying in the region exacerbating the poverty of the rural poor. Dalit women, subjects of the caste system are turning to moneylenders who charge heavy interest rates in order to feed their families. They are powerless, hungry and in debt.
Tzedek’s partner GHEC – Good Hopes Educational Committee – offers 30 women and girls a two week mat weaving course. After the initial training GHEC gives each woman a seed loan of £60 to buy raw materials and develop their own business. The mat weaving training is especially beneficial because it makes the most of innovative techniques, which make the products more attractive, comfortable to use and importantly, more profitable.
Mats have a constant market in India as they are used for sitting, resting, and sleeping. They are used in every home.
30 young women will be trained. We estimate that each woman will make around 180 mats per month and earn, after expenses, around 5,000 Rupees (£50). This vital income will improve their living and health conditions, to support their families now and allow money to be put away for a future difficult period.
Financial stability is critical; and with it comes a new status within the community, as each women become respected and even honoured for her ability to support the family. This results in greater self-esteem; which in turn gives the women the ability to advocate for themselves within the home, community and more widely.
30 teenage girls have now completed the 15-day training course in mat weaving and have been provided with the raw materials to start their own business: knives, threads, dyes, etc. They have been divided in 3 self-help groups of 10, where they can find guidance and advice from their peers, as well as moral support. Their daily income has doubled in 6 months from Rs. 100 to Rs. 200, bringing them well above the poverty line.
The Knock-on Effect
Each of the trained women repays the loan usually over a manageable, and extended two year period. This means the money can be recycled to new women. A donation now will continue to train women into the future.