Women’s becoming catalyst for social change in India’s Garo Hills
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Promoting the development of the indigenous people in Garo Hills district of Meghalaya, Bakdil, a Catholic Missionary run social service organization, is actively involved in encouraging women to form self help groups. This is empowering the women to lead a decent life.
In the last decade more than 600 SHGs were formed under the initiative of the Bakdil. This SHGs which consists of 10 -12 members in each groups, are carrying out small income generation activities like poultry, rearing of pigs, goats, weaving, turmeric powder making, pickle making, growing of aracanut and other vegetable and agriculture products.
In Rajabala, a remote village in Meghalaya the women from various self help groups undergo training in weaving. These women undergo course under the expertise of two young educated ladies, who are trained in the profession. These ladies, who are mostly uneducated with their will-power to do something different have step into this task for the cause of bring in a change.
This weaving training centre in the remote village called Takama in West Garo Hills was started by Bakdil a few years ago, solely to empower the women.
These are the women who have completed their courses and are weaving various items. They sell their products in the nearby markets and also in the village. These have added a significant income for their livelihood and brought in smiles in their faces.
After the formation of SHGs the women's have taken up various activities and these have helped them in generation of a substantial income for their living. The generated income, are used for savings and revolving funds among themselves. These women have become independent and they are no more shy to even approach the BDOs or any other officers in the district.
There is a significant change and improvement in the life of this people, as they believe that the group not only taught them how they can earn out a decent living for themselves, but it has empowered them; it has given them the confidence and a mission for living.
The attempt to start the formation of SHGs started in the late 1990s by Sr. Rose in Mendipathar, and by Sr. Mertyle in Mendal. However, the definite step towards initiating this formation of People's Organizations was started in Rabhagre with aid from Caritas
The project disproved the common belief that indigenous people who live in the interior villages live from sunrise to sunset, would not be interested in thrift saving and are capable of taking up viable economic activities.
Funds are coming up for the organization from Catholic Relief Services and other organization including from those of District Rural Development Agencies, and others. The Bakdil believes that if correct leadership is given the indigenous people can be the actual catalysts of social change in Garo Hills.
This is just a beginning of the formation of the movement of SHGs in Garo Hills.