Thrissur (Caritas Feature) -- Landless labourers and casual workers in Kerala’s Thrissur district are these days the focus of unique entrepreneurial skills after their three-year long involvement in Caritas India’s thrift and credit programmes.
Caritas India selected 37 villages in the Irinjalakuda and Parappukara areas of Thrissur to address the livelihood and economic sustainability of the people by organizing the landless laborers and casual laborers into Self Help Groups, initiate thrift and credit programmes and promote entrepreneurial skills amongst the target groups. In the last three years of intervention, 76 SHGs were formulated in these villages comprising of 1218 members. Several economic endeavors were initiated with very sustainable models of thrift and credit systems. There had been an easy accessibility of loan to members. In the community there is marked improvement in the self-confidence, social contacts, social and political consciousness, and leadership. Mostly, the income generation activities are agricultural based as the whole area belongs to farmers. There are these days a number of families especially women who have got into income generation activities like Palappam (a kind of bread prepared for the breakfast) making and selling in the markets. Women are seen cultivating flowers in their backyards and supplying these to shops and parlours. Other income generation activities include- vegetable farming, ginger & turmeric cultivation, pickles making, powdering spices, jasmine & tapioca cultivation, paddy cultivation, umbrella making etc. The various exposures and trainings imparted to these communities have enhanced the levels of awareness. The SHGs have offered a congenial platform and friendly atmosphere to the women to discuss their family and social problems. On many occasions, they have come together and fought for certain ill practices or even family problems. Anitha Viswambharan a member of the SHG and basically a coolie worker was somehow managing her life with an alcoholic husband and little source of income until the day when her husband got drunk and set the little thatched hut, they owned, on fire. It burnt away their possessions and she with her two children had nowhere to go. The SHG women united and loaned a sum of Rs. 500/- to build a small hut but more importantly they came together and filed a police complaint against the atrocities of her husband. Her husband who used to beat her daily got the shock of his life when two policemen came to warn him against the ‘harassment to his wife’ on the basis of the mass petition from women. That was the day when he has completely stopped creating nuisance and ill-treating his wife and children. Such is the power in unity. Continuation of women’s education, steady improvement in their knowledge base and building their leadership capacities with due social responsibility are some of the achievements of these three year long interventions. Meaningful participation of the community and ensuring sustainability of all activities had been the highlights of the endeavors.