New Income for Women

Prerana Nair
Monday, July 25, 2016

photo by Holger Casselmann

When we started visiting Ransai in Maharashtra two years back, we noticed that the women in the village stayed indoors doing housework or helping their husbands on the farms to grow crops. The husbands would bring money home, and with that, they would sustain their monthly expenses, usually about Rs 3,000 per month.

As the relationship between volunteers and villagers evolved, we realised these women cooked very tasty food with simple basic necessities for pulses. Upon asking, we were told they grind a masala and use that in all their dishes.

On coaxing, we all agreed that 12 village woman would make 40 kg mirchi powder and provide it to AYUDH volunteers to sell at Amma’s local ashram. The task started with providing them with the raw materials and the village women identified an area where they would dry the red chillies .

After 10 days of cleaning and drying the chillies, they carried the 40 kg of chilli on their heads at dawn and walked 11 km to the other side of the hill to the grinding place. By lunchtime, they were back with the powder.

AYUDH volunteers and villagers together packed the mirchi powder and it was put up for sale. The villagers at the start of this program were very doubtful of their talent and thought people would not buy their product . When they visited the ashram for the first time, all their focus was on how many of their packets had sold.

To their surprise, almost 25 kg sold on the first day itself, so this boosted their confidence. The next time we visited them there were 30 other women who wanted to make masala.

All proceeds are remunerated to the villagers, so these women now have an aura of confidence that they can also be equally part of generating household income. They have started talking to local restaurants to sell their masala.

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