Once you make up your mind to live a life of dignity, nothing can stop you. A community of beggars in the tribal-dominated Dungarpur district in Rajasthan is proving this true.
For the Vadi community living in the Kuwadiyafala village of Dungarpur, around 500 km from Jaipur, begging was the main source of income for a very long time. But thanks to the employment guarantee scheme, they have realised the value of hard work and self-esteem.
Over 40 families are now working under various projects under the scheme. They comprise young men of 25 years to older women aged 65.
"We will never beg in our life again. We hope the government runs this project forever so that we can earn our bread throughout our lives. It will also help us to educate our children. All this could never have been possible through begging," said Lalchand Vadi, 40.
Zoriya Kachru Vadi, the 40-year-old leader of these families, says the standard of living of the people in her area has changed after getting work.
"Earlier we had to struggle to earn bread for our families but now people have even started thinking of educating their children. They feel more secure," claimed Zoriya Kachru Vadi.
People love to go out for work early in the morning and return in the evening. A few are even accompanied by their wives.
Nattu Lal Vadi, 30, has four children. He has admitted all of them to a nearby school. He feels that at least the kids should stay out of the family business of begging.
"We are earning on our own now and are not dependent on others," said a proud Nattu Lal Vadi.
"Initially, my entire family participated in the employment guarantee scheme. But now two of my sons are employed at another place and my daughter-in-law and I are engaged in the scheme programmes," said Dhuli, 65.
"I pray that the scheme continues like this," she added.