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Collective of hope

No. 1 Chikajora Village of Barobazar block, inhabited by Bengali and Rajbongshi communities is located in the fringe of Manas National Park. The families have meager landholding and there is a severe problem of drinking water and elephants destroying standing crops. Also due to lack of lowland, people have to depend on wage-earning, timber felling, and vegetable cultivation. SeSTA started mobilizing the women into SHG from 2014 and now 14 SHGs comprising 159 members have been formed. A Village Organisation (VO) called Trinyanee as a collective of these SHGs was formed to address social issues, act as a platform for livelihood promotion and financial intermediation. With its active support, 9 SHGs have availed cumulative loan of 13.5 lakhs for different livelihood activities. SeSTA helped the groups and members prepare livelihood and credit plans for the same. All the groups got linked with NRLM. SeSTA has been implementing Mahila Kisaan Shashaktikaran Pariyojana (MKSP) project for sustainable livelihood promotion through the VO and has so far routed 5.5 lakhs as revolving fund. With this money, 123 members have taken up activities like organic vegetable cultivation, Arecanut and Assam Lemon plantation, Vermicompost tanks. More than 50 families have started applying organic fertilizers and pesticides in their field. Under the MKSP project, different implements for reducing the drudgery of the members were given to the VO. The VO was also provided with plastic crates and weighing balance for the marketing of the vegetable produce. Paravet of the VO has been vaccinating cattle, goats and backyard poultry for protection against various diseases.

Recently, VO has formed a drinking water and sanitation monitoring committee to monitor household latrine construction under Swacha Bharat Misson and engaging in the PHED department for renovation of drinking water supply which was shut for the last 2 years. Now the renovation work has started. Trinayanee VO has fully engaged with the VCDC to make plans under GPDP. They have made an effective plan for MGNREGA giving more focused on individual’s schemes which were mostly related to the agriculture and income-generating for the marginalized family.

Earlier women in the village were mostly confined within the four walls of the house. But now they have started taking an active part in decision making in the house as well as the village. They exude more confidence in engaging with government officials. They are also having an enhanced say in decision making within the households.

Lata Mandal, a VO representative said, “Earlier we were confined to our home, we knew only our family members, it was very difficult for us to venture out and communicate with new persons. Now we have been to places beyond our village boundaries. We can communicate confidently with people. A thing that the VO has helped us to achieve is awareness against domestic violence, now in our village, not many women suffer from domestic violence. We are proud of our VO and we will make it an even stronger collective”