Provision of livelihoods for poor and downtrodden can help in their economic and social upliftment. Through targeted livelihood interventions governments across the globe are trying to reduce poverty and inequality by empowering people. Odisha government’s livelihoods mission has been a forerunner in financially and socially elevating thousands of poor and marginalized individuals and communities from below poverty line.
Mayurbhanj resident Subhadra Das is a prime example of OLM (Odisha Livelihoods Mission) intervention bringing a positive change in her life. The Golamundra villager from Bangiriposhi block narrated her story of struggle and resilience, and resultant empowerment before PHDMA team during a recent visit.
The woman, who is in her 50s, resides with her son, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters. Going on flashback, she presented a picture of despair and distress from her past. Her husband, who died two years ago due to illness, was the sole bread earner from agricultural work in a small piece of land the family owned. Subhadra, a class-IX dropout, used to work as a house-help in different residences in the locality. Their kachcha ghar was adding to their woes as it was not disaster-resistant and needed frequent repair putting the family on further financial burden. Moreover, her husband’s treatment cost her around Rs 2 lakhs, which she had taken on loan from friends and relatives.
In search of a way out from such miserable life, she wanted to join a SHG in her village. But none of the existing ones allowed her in. “The SHGs were mostly indulging in saving money from members. They denied me membership citing I wouldn’t be able to put money regularly as I was very poor,” she expressed with visible sadness and hurt sentiment clouding her face and voice. However, she was quick to recover, and with a pinch of pride in her voice added, “I formed a SHG with few other women in 2002. We started saving money regularly. After the OLM integration, we could learn a lot about livelihood options and take easy credit for initiating our business. And this was the turning point in my life.”
She took a loan of Rs 10,000 to start her bangles and lady’s garment business. It turned out to be a sustainable livelihood option for her. She has paid back her loan over the years. For procuring the raw materials, she makes a day-long trip to Jamshedpur once in every week or fortnight. Meanwhile, she got a pucca house under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). Besides, Rs 20,000 incentives was also availed under the Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana (BPGY). The resilient house gave her hope and saved her money. The pucca ghar is also electrified under BPL electrification scheme, while she has got gas connection under Ujjwala yojana. She has set up her shop in her own house. People come to her place to buy stuffs. Sometimes she takes the extra effort of home-delivering the orders.
She also has received Rs 8,000 and seeds for setting up a nutria-garden to push her family’s dietary requirements. A recipient of monetary assistance under Kalia scheme, the woman has been renting a power tiller to plough and irrigate her land from a nearby well at Rs 480 per hour. Her daughter-in-law has obtained benefits under Mamata scheme during birth of her two daughters in institutional facilities. One of her granddaughters used to get benefits from Anganwadi centre and is now studying in the government school.
Her son works as a driver and earns around Rs 7000 per month. Subhadra makes profit of around Rs 6000 every month from her business. The nutri-garden, agriculture from family land and rice from PDS help in their sustenance throughout the year.
With regular income from livelihoods and financial security taken care of, she is quite socially empowered. She regularly visits government offices from where she gets information regarding government schemes and benefits. She is also a member of the Gram Kalyan Samiti. “I assist other women in my locality to gain from my experience. Since my financial condition has improved, I feel an obligation towards the society and try my best to help others,” remarked she.
Quite aspirational, she wishes to expand her business by setting up a bigger shop on the roadside. She also wants to provide her son with a four-wheeler of his own so that he can drive his own car and earn. A believer of power of education, she is determined to ensure all educational facilities to her granddaughters.
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