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SHGs help Madhya Pradesh’s differently abled secure a livelihood

The self-help groups include members who are visually, orthopedically and mentally challenged.

bhopal Updated: Dec 02, 2017 22:11 IST
Punya Priya Mitra
Punya Priya Mitra
Hindustan Times, Budhwa/Jolly (Jabalpur)/Bhopal
Selg help group,SHG,Differently-abled group
Differently abled members of a self-help group help one another as they work in their vegetable plot in Jolly village of Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh.(HT Photo/Mujeeb Faruqui)

Overcoming prejudice, differently abled people in two villages of Jabalpur district have come together to grow and market vegetables to earn their livelihood, inspiring many in the area.

The self-help groups in Budhwa and Jolly villages, situated around 50km from district headquarters Jabalpur, include members who are visually, orthopedically and mentally challenged.

Initially, not many were sure of the groups’ success. But for the past two years, the members have been proving their detractors wrong.

Former sarpanch of Jolly village Ghanshyam Dahia was among those who thought the group would not succeed. “Initially I was sceptical but looking at their dedication, I now help them in whatever way I can,” says Dahia.

It was group members like 60-year-old Tara Bai, who lost her eyesight to small pox when she was only 10 months old, who forced people to change their minds. Tara Bai never married and confined herself to her home, doing little jobs around the house for years. But now, courtesy local NGO Tarun Sanskar that helped them form the group she grows and plucks vegetables with ease.

“My sense of touch is strong. I can gauge the plant by the shape of the leaves and also if the vegetable is ready for plucking,” says Tara Bai. Other members sell the produce at the local markets.

“I feel good about myself as I am busy. My nephews and nieces and their children see me in a different light as I am earning now,” she says.

Rajjo Bai, who lost her eyesight about six years ago and belongs to the group in Budhwa village says, “I didn’t have confidence that I would be able to make money by selling vegetables. But the group’s success changed that.”

Parvati Barman, of Budhwa village, who is orthopedically challenged, says: “We grow most of the seasonal vegetables and earn between Rs 3,000-Rs 5,000 per season.”

The economics and dynamics of the group are simple. Some members have land where they work collectively. The group also leases plots from other villagers on percentage basis.

The money each member earns depends on whether the land is theirs and how much labour they are putting in.

“There has been no bank loan so far, but we are trying. Also, if we get one big plot of government land, it would save a lot of energy,” visually impaired Sunita Bai says.

Jabalpur district collector Mahesh Choudhary is aware of the work being done by the two groups. “We are doing our best to remove the hurdles in their path” .

First Published: Dec 02, 2017 22:11 IST