BIS #6488 Lonavla Mahila Bachat Gat- saving for the future

by Father Blany Pinto for BISMumbai

Our outreach to the adopted villages are progressing admirably and it seems very satisfying and fulfilling not only for DB Lonavla but also for our social outreach staff (Sonali and Ravi Shelke) and surely for our benefactors. During the month of September, we engaged the children with festive activities in keeping with the festivals and utilised the opportunity to educate the villagers on the meaning and significance of the festival.

On the occasion of Ganesh Chaturti, the social ourtreach staff explained to them the meaning of the festival and also educated them on how to maintain cleanliness and avoid all forms of pollution. Suggestions on how to lessen plastic or noise pollution was shared and also insisted on cleanliness after the feast. We distributed printouts of Ganapati to the children and conducted drawing sessions to entertain the children. Other activities such as preparing a collage of the leaves was also undertaken.

Pola, a hindu festival of the ox was also celebrated. None of the people had oxen, hence the celebrations was only limited to enlightening them on the meaning of the festival and the children were given a printout of the ox for colouring. The festival was celebrated in a symbolic manner.

Other outreach efforts carried out by our staff was the meeting attended by Ravi and Sonali with the Panchayat leaders. In the meeting, the leaders enlightened the social outreach staff on Mahila Bachat gat (Women’s saving group) and the advantages for the women if they join the group. It was explained that 10 women or more can form the Mahila bachat group. And this group has to be attached to any government bank. The scheme of this group is that each woman has to contribute Rs. 100 or more in the bank. When the women belonging to the group are in need of financial help, the government grants a loan of upto Rs. 15,000. When the group members complete 6 months, and if any members wishes to begin a business, she is entitled to a loan of Rs. 1 lac. When they return the complete amount, then they are entitled to another loan of Rs 3 lacs. This scheme would be beneficial if any women desire to begin a business. Considering that the villagers are staying at the foot of the mountains, they have easy access to honey beehives and could possibly commence a Honey supplying business or any other viable business.

At present there are only 2 street lights in the village. Most part of the village is in darkness after sunset. Snake or insect bites are a real possibility. We are exploring ways and means of acquiring more solar streets lights in the village. Chirag foundation has come forward to sponsor solar lamp for each family. At present, the social outreach staff is filling the forms for each family so that they can get the solar lamp.

In our country, we have Pradan Mantri Arogya Yojana. According to this plan, each villager has to pay Rs 100 and obtain the card. Once the card is obtained, they are entitled to Rs 5 lac medical treatment. We are presently looking into the possibilities of obtaining this facility for the villagers.

It is worth mentioning that 2 women in Mundhavare village are attending the government course on beauty parlour and thus utilising the benefits to improve their standard of living. We were also able to provide food supplies as we had a benefactress who donated food kits to 30 families.