“I run my family from the income I get by selling goats.” – Ms. Manimekalai, Vattan Theru.
“If my children are studying and we live in a decent hut, it is because of my goats.” – Ms. Lakshmi, Vattantheru.
“We eat thrice now. I am confident about life now.” – Ms. Rajeshwari, Vattantheru.
Vattantheru is a remote village, with 30 families, of Budaloor Block, Thanjavur District, TamilNadu State. It is a drought prone area of a District once known as the RICE BOWL OF TAMILNADU. The people of Vattantheru belong to Scheduled Caste, working for a JAMIN called KOONAMPATTIN JAMIN.
Their job is to work for the Landlord and be bonded to him. They do not have any lands and have their huts built in the lands of the Landlord. They are not allowed to have cattle in their houses. Their children do not go to school but work in the lands of the Landlord. They work for a meager salary which they have to pay as interest for the advance received long ago by their parents or forefathers. No one raises questions against the mighty landlord.
This entire story was before 15 years when Indian Institute of Development Trust (IID Trust) did not intervene in their lives. IID Trust is a registered Trust to work for the betterment of rural poor by raising their knowledge, skill and assets on land and cattle based life. IID believes that life is sustainable when human kind lives in amity with NATURE.
So, it feels that poor people who have creativity and the attitude of hard work should be mobilized to preserve the culture and nature. IID also believes that Cattle are the main part in the natural cycle.
So, IID Trust gave awareness to rural poor Scheduled Caste Women on Poverty and the way to eradicate by way of living eco-friendly life. IID has the experience of forming women groups among dalit community and federate them.
Two such women groups were formed in Vattantheru. There are 13 women in kolunchi SHG and another 13 in vahai SHG. They were given training on leadership, importance of savings, Natural Resource Management, Income Generation initiatives and such. They are facilitated to be together and fight for their patta rights.
After Ms. Dhanalakshmi and Mr.P. John Britto got trained by ANTRA in various topics related to Cattle rearing and Bio-Farming, Ms. Dhanalakshmi made arrangement from ANBULAGAM WOMEN’S BANK (an initiative of dalit women federation) for all 26 women to get three goats each from Rs.5000/- loan.
She helped them get the guidance from the Veterinary Doctor from Government Veterinary Hospital situated at Sengipatti, a mother village, 3 kames from Vattantheru. The Doctor goes to the village once every three months. When they purchased goats one year before, there were 78 goats to start with.
Now there are 196 goats in the village after selling a few in the last three months. It helped them most in the month of June when they had to put their children in the schools. Yes. Now they sent the children to schools and because of this programme they could prevent drop outs from the schools. They would also get their pattas very soon. Since they are economically well off now, they are in the way of getting freedom from the Landlord.
Since Ms.Dhanalakshmi learnt about the traditional method of giving medicine to goats from ANTHRA Training, She could add to the existing knowledge of women, who are the best carriers of such traditional knowledge.
This intervention of IID Trust is not new but for the technical aspect. Now the ordinary women know the importance of cattle rearing and living with self dignity and ecological balance. Thanks to ANTHRA.