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Women power in Vir village to bring education, healthcare

Posted by Página do Microcrédito em 24 julho, 2007

Aiswarya Ananthapadmanabhan

Pune, July 23: Alka Dhumal’s farmer husband uses a fertilizer made in his own backyard, a skill he learnt from the do-it-yourself book housed in the modest library started in Purandar district’s Vir village, a year ago. Swati Kshirsagar, who started with a flour mill progressed to a cloth shop. These are success stories from a village that grapples with a host of problems— bad roads, a collpased bridge, poor educatin facilities.

Vir, nearly 65 km from Pune, has a population of 7,000 people and 85 self-help groups (SGHs) started with some push from city-based Helpo Foundation that has helped village women financially. The founder, visually-challenged Abdul Salam, who has already helped kickstart 2,500 SGHs in five districts of Maharashtra, has floated this venture in Vir to bring about holistic rural development.

Helpo Foundation works for sustainable village based development in rural Maharashtra. Key areas include microcredit, microenterprise, health, education, income generation and working for the disabled, especially women and children. Much of its activities are carried out through donations.

“Vir needs infrastructural development,” said several women at the inauguration function of Helpo Cultural Centre-India Network, voicing their problems to Salam and NABARD general manager (Maharashtra Branch) S Santhanam.

First and foremost, the women want the centre to start medical camps. “Though two doctors from hospitals in Jejuri and Pune make visits six days a week, the nearest hospital is almost 20 km away. There is no bus out of the village after 4.30 pm and in case of an emergency, villagers have to hire private jeeps and are chraged exhorbitantly,” theysaid.

Next come the roads. Those leading to the village are potholed and need asphalting while the bridge across the Nira connecting the village to Saswad collapsed after the heavy rain. “The bridge was in a dilapidated condition and when Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had visited the village six months ago, he had promised to fix it. We have met the sarpanch several times but all he says is that he is waiting for funds,” said Sunanda Dhumal, who heads an SHG.

However, the turnaround is all set to happen. With several women having studied till standard VII, Salam said plans were to get them involved in teaching children. “A new English medium school till Standard X has been started in Saswad,” said Alka, adding, “Around 50-60 students go to Saswad and almost 200-300 in standard XI and XII go to another school in Parinche. If Vir has an English medium school, our children will benefit,” she said.

Source: http://cities.expressindia.com

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