Rukkhi Devi with her goats.
Rukkhi Devi stands in front of her new concrete house.
“In the last six months, the biggest change has been that from a thatched house. I have been able to build a concrete house.” —Rukkhi Devi
Life is getting better for Rukkhi Devi. She looks at the two goats she received from Heifer India. These now have four kids. The two to be passed on are ready for the big ceremony. The goats changed her life. She got three liters of milk every day: she kept one for her family’s consumption and sold the rest at about $1 per liter to the local merchant. The family has sold two bucks for 5,000 Rupees (about US $ 100) this month. About 10 months ago, they sold a male kid male for $40. The family has earned a total of $140 that has increased their family income.
But in order to get this result, Rukkhi had to learn how to keep her livestock. She learned the benefits of keeping the goats in a shed so the hot summer sun would not burn their skin. She learned how to stall-feed them too. The fodder seeds Heifer provided also helped.
Rukkhi is also seeing the benefits of the vegetable seeds she received. Now the family has eaten green vegetables every day for the last three months. These positive results encouraged them to plant eight more trees this year.
The highlight of the project were the three import trainings Rukkhi received:
- The nutrition & hygiene training has been very informative. Rukkhi says it has helped her learn and understand how to maintain personal hygiene and to keep the house and its surroundings clean. She understands the importance of a toilet in the house. She also understands the strong emphasis on good nutrition for good health.
- The training on smokeless stoves has helped her understand the hazardous implications of smoke on health, especially on the health of women in the house. She says she understood how the smoke would affect her vision, her eyes and her respiratory tract. She is glad that these problems, which were deemed to be eventualities, will not affect her or her family now. She also understands that it will save on fuel and fuel costs, and also reduce the ill effects caused to the environment. She is happy that she will be able to cook twice as quickly, the utensils and dishes will not turn black from charcoal and the kitchen will not be covered with soot.
- The training on rain water harvesting systems helped Rukkhi realize the importance of water management. She says her family would save a total of about $57 annually on water because of collecting rainwater. Given the scarcity of water and negligible amount of rain in the region, the rainwater harvesting system would help them maintain an unrestricted supply of water throughout the year. This would impact the lives of the women positively because they are the ones who travel long distances to fetch water, she adds.
Editor’s note: This post is part of a series that follows the progress of specific families, starting at the beginning of their work with Heifer. In Asia/South Pacific, our colleagues have chosen one family in each region in the countries where we work and will bring us quarterly updates. You can read the first story about Rukkhi Devi and her family here.
Dr. Panda and Mr. Prusty watch as Heifer India project participants participate in a Passing on the Gift ceremony
Basanti lives in the small village of Orissa. She joined Heifer India’s Tribal Empowerment Through Sustainable Livelihood Program in 2010 as a member of a self help group. This month, Bansanti’s village had visitors when the chairperson of the Heifer India Advisory Committee and his guest came to witness the transformation taking place with the help of Heifer India.
As per their tradition, self help group welcomed the visitors, invited them to participate in their meeting and gave them an update of their activities. Then Basanti and her fellow group members took the visitors to see their kitchen gardens. The two gentlemen, being familiar with Basanti’s culture, were highly encouraged by these. They knew that tribal communities rarely ate green vegetables, preferring crops like potato and cassava. But the lushly-green garden told a different story. They presented the visitors with a ripe papaya.
Impromptu, the group decided that they had an opportunity to pass on some gifts. Three families passed on goats to another two families. This was a decision the group took on its own and organized the ceremony in a span of fifteen minutes. The warmth of the ceremony surrounded the visitors even after they left the village, despite the fact that it delayed their departure by half an hour.
Editor’s note: This post is part of a series that follows the progress of specific families, starting at the beginning of their work with Heifer. Today’s post is the second in a series of quarterly updates on the progress of Basanti and her family.
Heifer India project participants honor visiting dignitaries Dr. Panda and Mr. Prusty as part of a Passing on the Gift ceremony
Heifer India project participants give a tour of their vegetable garden
Leela Devi poses with her two sons Luv and Kush
In Simariya Village, Leela still continues to struggle with her life. But with the help of Heifer International India, things have changed. Her family income has gone up and her dream of living in a concrete house is seeing the first rays of hope. With the increase in income, she and her husband have started thinking of building their concrete house in the same yard. They hope to finish is in a years’ time.
In her small yard, Leela has started growing vegetables from the different seeds she received, and she is also growing fodder for her animals. As they struggle along, Leela and her family live with hope and a very positive attitude as she continues as an active member of her family, group and community.
Editor’s note: This post is part of a series that follows the progress of specific families, starting at the beginning of their work with Heifer. Our colleagues in the field have chosen one family in each region in the countries where we work and will bring us quarterly updates. You can read read the first post about Leela and her family here.
Leela Devi guides project management committee members on poultry farm structure
Leela Devi poses with her two goats she received from Heifer International
Basanti at the goat shed near her home
by Avni Malhotra
Basanti (23) is a simple tribal woman from a small village in Orissa. Basanti joined Heifer’s Tribal Empowerment Through Sustainable Livelihood Program in 2010 as a member of a self help group. Her family’s main source of income is labor, and they have a small plot of land that they cultivate. Since it is a joint family, the expenses keep growing as the elderly can’t contribute as much and the needs of the five year old son grow. She started working as a local health worker last year, and this increased her income. Also, she manages to sell the fruits and vegetables she cultivates as a part of the Heifer project and this also substantiates her income.
When I visited her village she was one of the eight people who was giving her gift to another woman very much like her. Basanti shines in the Heifer India program as one of the women who is an example of the Value Based Holistic Community Development Model. She gave her gift joyously along with vegetables and plants. She and her entire family; parent in-laws Kisnu and Karna, husband Hemanta and son Soumyaranajn all danced along with the gift recipient family (and me).
Following the Passing on the Gift ceremony, Basanti participated in a play she and her friends had scripted, directed and acted in. She played the role of a spoiled son who wastes his mother’s time and money.
After the ceremony was over she took us to her house — a neat mud walled hut with a thatched roof. She showed us her goat shed, which had been made in the corner of her house. The craftsmanship and the manner in which the bamboo was tied together make the goat shed very impressive. It was well ventilated.
Basanti has self-respect and does not want to be a burden on anyone. Her drive to improve her lot motivated her to take up the work of the village health worker. Today she has three pigs, three goats and eight hens. She has worked hard and demonstrated an improvement in her family income.
Editor’s note: This post is part of a series that follows the progress of specific families, starting at the beginning of their work with Heifer. Today’s post is the first in a series of quarterly updates on the progress of Basanti and her family.