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Village development is key to the development of a country. We take the case of Visoor village in Tamil Nadu, where transformation is led by groups of women.

In the quiet little village of Visoor in Tamil Nadu, late afternoons are when streets are empty and the village seems to be taking a nap. The silence is interrupted however by high pitched voices of women from near the village well. The group is headed by a feisty middle-aged woman, Kalamani. The group discusses their finances and Kalamani tries to address the problems faced by members. They may be just a group of village women, but this group and others like them are heading a revolution.

The future of India lies in its villages, said M.K Gandhi. More than 60 years later, the villages of India continue to thrive. Indian agriculture contributes to 18% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and is also the source of employment to almost 50% of India’s population.

However, there is one factor that pulls down the development of these villages — poverty. The economy of villages is primarily dependent on that of income of the male member of the family. While the men head out to work, women manage the house but do not contribute in a large way to the household income.

We at Hand in Hand India have taken up Village Development with a motive of ending poverty through job creation. In Tamil Nadu’s Visoor village where we work on uplifting the village, we saw the women come together to lead the transformation.

The heroine of our story, Kalamani is looked up to in many ways by the women around her. She runs a mini-provision store that supplies the villagers with grocery and other essentials. Hand in Hand India with corporate partners has been empowering women with relevant skills and training them to contribute to their family income. Kalamani received a loan of INR 30,000 from HiH India to set up her petty shop. From a monthly earning of INR 6000, she now earns INR 9000 per month. The income partly goes towards her household expenses, while also increasing the stocks in her store. Every month sees a new item being added to Kalamani’s petty shop.

Kalamani stands proud in her shop

There are others like Kalamani too, such as Parameshwari who lives opposite Kalamani’s shop. This young lady with a bachelors degree was wondering how to add to her family’s income when she joined HiH India’s ‘Sewing Machine Operator course’. She started off experimenting with her baby’s clothes, moved on to her own and then to those of her neighbours. From then to now, Parameshwari has become quite a tailor and earns INR 3000 a month with her newly acquired tailoring skills. Eventually, she hopes to find employment in large tailoring units when her daughter grows up.

Parameshwari shows off her Tailoring course certificate

In Visoor’s agricultural landscape, milch animals are an important source of income.

When Renganayaki took an INR 30,000 loan from HiH India to buy a cow, she was thinking of supplementing the family’s milk source. But today, the cow she bought has given birth to another, enabling Renganayaki to supply milk to the neighbouring cooperative earning INR 3000 per month. HiH India’s veterinary camps are a huge help to agriculturalists like Renganayaki in keeping her cows healthy, providing them vaccinations and treatments free of cost!

Visoor’s women are today a force to reckon with, thanks to their newfound financial independence. With skills and earning power in their hands, they are out to change the landscape of their village. Hand in Hand India aims to work with them and guide them to grow.

Hand in Hand India’s Village Uplift intervention operates across India transforming villages through a multi-pronged approach. We tackle poverty through skill development, job creation and creating healthy communities. Read more about us here.

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