This is the story of a successful mandal samakhya. Tadimarri mandal in Anantaur district is an interior mandal. It is not easy for a federation of SHGs of persons with disabilities to succeed in such a mandal. But ‘Anne Ferrer Vikalangula Samakhya’ of Tadimarri have proved the opposite. This federation was registered in 2005. It had an executive committee of 9 members initially. They first focused on whatever problems village level SHGs had. They visited those villages and advised them on possible solutions and plans of action. They also liaised with government officers regarding certificates, pensions, marriage incentives, Antyodaya cards and tricycles. Nearly 500 PWDs benefitted from their efforts. An inter-caste marriage of Adinarayana and Sailaja, two visually impaired persons from two different mandals, was a great achievement and event for celebration in their federation. They say, “thus we are dealing with critical social issues too.” The police department in Tadimarri mandal has become very good friend of this samakhya. They once approached the local bank manager for bank loans for various income generation activities. But the manager did not respond to them favorably. But they did not give up. They did relay dharnas in front of the bank. Finally the manager gave them loans. Impressed by their utilization and repayment, the bank went on to give them loans to the tune of Rs. 1,16,33,150/-. Then they felt the need for an office for the federation. With the help of the local MLA, they approached the District Collector, who sanctioned a patta for 4 cents of land. They mobilized funds from MGNREGA and from MLA and constructed an office cum meeting hall at Tadimarri for their federation. This building (which was constructed with Rs. 8 lakhs) was inaugurated in 2017. All the members are very united and active. They are confident that they will achieve more for the samakhya.
This is about an awareness cultural performance with big impact. This performance was given in Kurumala village near Nallamada. This village was infested with several issues like early marriages, backwardness in girls’ education and high gender discrimination in families. The area team felt that this village is lagging behind in almost all developmental programs due to the above issues. They decided that a big awareness cultural performance was needed there. The team of all cultural organizers from Kadiri region came together to perform on the above combination of gender issues. Before the drama started they sang songs on girls education, domestic violence and women’s development. Then they performed the drama called ‘Cheyutha’ meaning support. The story depicts a husband who is addicted to liquor and beats wife daily and forces his daughters to dropout from school. When relatives and elders come to advise him, he talks to them rudely. Moreover, he plans marriage for his daughter who is under aged. Then the RDT anti –violence team comes to know about it and visits his family accompanied by the same relatives and elders who were earlier humiliated by him. While they counsel him on all his family issues, they also warn him that he will be handed over to the police if he doesn’t stop his daughter’s marriage immediately. The man resists first, but after having understood its importance to his family as well as the legislation and its consequences, he relents and changes his mind for the better.
K.G. Venkatappa is 69 years old and his wife Gangamma is 60 years old. Venkatappa studied only up to 5th class. His son Srikanth is 38 years old and married. Srikanth too studied only up to 5th class. They have 4.70 acres of dry land and 3.30 acres under a bore-well. Venkatappa says, “The bore-well was giving only 1.5 inches of water. Therefore, I was afraid whether it will be sufficient for any crops. Whenever I went to the field to irrigate it, I used to sleep there along with my children. Never did I get any good crop yield. Instead, a lot of weed used to grow. Investment on labour itself used to be Rs. 25,000/- per 2 acres. I tried groundnut, paddy, onion and bajra. All the crops consumed a lot of water. I used to get tired of having to work under the heat of the Sun to irrigate these lands. I got fed up and gave 2 years crop holiday to my field and became a labourer. I worked under MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) and 2 more members from my family joined me. We earned Rs. 15,000/- per month. But again I thought to myself that it was not proper for me to leave the land barren. Just then RDT came to our village with drip irrigation. That gave me new hope. After I went for drip irrigation, I cultivated onion in 2 acres of my land. I got 17,472 kilograms of onions. I got a net loss of Rs. 3213/-. But I did not lose heart. In the 2nd crop I went for onion, coriander and groundnut. This time I got net profit of Rs. 12,890/-. Encouraged by this, I went for tomato in my 3rd crop. This time my net profit was Rs. 2,65,069/-. By now I realized how drip irrigation helped to produce maximum crop with minimum water. The weed is much less and the use of manure is optimum. Investment on labour is less and the quality of crop is more. I have a very happy family now.”
They are all women belonging to very poor families. Agricultural labour and marginal farming are their livelihoods. They looked for a skill that would enhance their livelihoods. They participated in RDT’s training in agarbathi making and sales. They went one step forward. They also learnt scenting and packing of agarbathi. They named their product ‘Subhaprada agarbathi’ and entered agarbathi market. These women from the remote village of Lathavaram in Anantapur district, are now well know in agarbathi business circles. Each woman today earns Rs. 3000 to 4000 in a month. Their experiences in their own words:
“We used to feel shy to sell agarbathi in the beginning. But gradually we learnt the trade and gained confidence. We are going to the neighbouring villages 4 days in a week to sell agarbathi”- Thippamma
“Our relatives are in Bengaluru. They themselves come here and take agarbathi worth Rs.4000 every month. They say that our material is pure and its scent original. Ours is a quality product and the bathi burns for longer time.” – Sujatha
“I am Salamma from Parvathadevarapalli village in Mamillapalli area. When I came to this village as a daughter in -law, my husband and my father in-law were working in farmers’ houses as contract labour. With the savings from his wages my father in-law bought some land. Of course, it was a dry land. There were bushes and boulders in it. We did not have good rains and we never cultivated it. Therefore, all the family members including me continued as wage labourers.
Meanwhile, I became a member of RDT’s women sangham. I also became a group leader. I had the opportunity to avail a loan from the women’s development fund and bought milche animals. I sold milk. With that money, I bought 5 acres of irrigated land. I continued to sell milk and got some more income. With that, I cleared our dry land of boulders and bushes and made it cultivable. Now we have 270 mango plants in half of the wet land and are growing tomatoes in the other half. We are also growing millets in the dry land. With these initiatives, I became the leading farmer in my family ahead of my husband and father in-law. I am proud of that. Of course, my husband helps me in spraying pesticides, riding the bullock cart and transporting the crops. I have 3 daughter and 2 sons. The daughters are married and sons are still studying. It gives me immense pleasure to have become a farmer in the same village where I was once a labourer.”
Excessive post- natal bleeding is one of the primary causes of maternal deaths in our country. Approximately, 68,500 mothers are dying for this very reason. That is 99% of maternal deaths. If one of those mothers is HIV positive, the situation can be terrible.
One such mother (we cannot reveal her name for obvious reasons) came to RDT hospital at Bathalapalli after 40 weeks of pregnancy. She was a primy. There was every chance of a risk delivery. More so because no doctor ever examined her during those 40 weeks. Fortunately, the delivery was normal and the baby was safe. But her real suffering started after that. There was continuous bleeding from the uterus. It was very difficult to control it. She became unconscious and struggled to breathe. Blood pressure fell drastically. Then she was given oxygen, platelets, vitamin K and a necessary acid. She was shifted to ICU. She regained consciousness but was still in a drowsy state and continued to struggle breathing. An apparatus that supports the heart was arranged and artificial breath was provided through ventilator. Antibiotics were also given. All other services normally provided in an ICU were given to her. After fighting with death for 3 days, she ultimately came alive to the relief of doctors and medical staff.
To prevent such dangers, every pregnant woman must have monthly medical checkups. More importantly, should not hurry home soon after delivery because real danger lurks after delivery. Therefore mothers, their families, doctors and hospitals must always be on the alert.