In the Viluppuram District of Tamil Nadu, India, there are large groups of impoverished women. They raise their children alone, on incredibly low incomes and on very little food. Migration away from this area is commonplace, however there is little to show that they will find employment elsewhere. Belonging to the lowest caste of Indian society, these women work mending shoes and digging graves. They are seen as unclean, and, even as they work from dawn till dusk they still don’t earn enough money to make ends meet.
This third project with HNC is targeting a group of 30 women living and raising children in extreme poverty. The aims of this project are twofold: to provide employment opportunities through skills training and through micro credit finance to enable the women to start their own business, selling vegetables, dry fish or the making and selling of sofas. In this way, a new source of income will be created for these women, and one that would be above the poverty line. An appointed group leader is negotiating with local companies to secure buyers for the products these women make, in addition to their ability to sell the products themselves, directly. With the new incomes, children will be able to go back to school and secure better grades and futures.
The benefits of skills training with a ready market are immense. Incomes are expected to increase from 50p a day to £2.25 a day. The impact of this drastic rise in income is difficult to overstate; even large families can begin to start sending their children back to school, whilst a more reliable source of food is also created. Greater nutrition, greater educational opportunities, and greater stability, all contribute to breaking cycles of poverty.
The Knock-on Effect
With children returning to schools and being qualified to attain higher paying jobs in the future, their ability to avoid cycles of poverty is increased drastically. Each individual whose income is increased is empowered; owning housing becomes a possible, decision making potential is increased and social recognition is generated. These have both immediate and long-lasting impacts. Equally, each woman who takes part in the project agrees to a microfinance sustainability programme, whereby the skills and education they receive are paid for with an extremely low interest loan, which, when paid back, allows HNC to fund the project for yet another year, and another group of people. This is the benefit of Tzedek’s approach to sustainable development; we can keep lifting people out of poverty through our partners overseas.