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
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.