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This Heifer International project in India is working with 250 families in 12 villages in eastern Rajasthan who have already formed 15 self-help groups (SHG). Raising goats is traditionally practiced in eastern Rajasthan. Initial project planning revealed that women want to upgrade their asset base and skills for goat rearing. Accordingly, the project will provide 200 original families with three goats each, while each SHG will receive a breeding buck. Fifty families have requested to only receive training. The project will also benefit another 500 families through Passing on the Gift (POG).
Gopali Devi lives in Sawantsar village with her husband, Babulal Miwa, and their three children: Bhupendra, 10; Santoshi, 6; and Nisha, 4. Babulal is a farmer, and Gopali tended their one buffalo, which provided enough milk for family consumption.
Three years ago, Gopali joined the Durga self-help group and started participating in Heifer training. She received three goats from Heifer. Within a year, three goat kids were born. She used part of the goat milk for family consumption, and they sold extra goat milk and two goat kids for additional income.
Last season, Gopali received horticulture plants and vegetable seeds to grow a kitchen garden. She now has six types of vegetables and two types of fruit plants in her garden.
All of the training has taught Gopali how to be a leader and work collectively. She is the treasurer of her project management committee. Their finance training taught her how to start saving. She helps other villagers with their animal husbandry after receiving training in animal treatment processes and medicines. After sharing her gender training with her family, they now share the family and farm work equally.
Gopali described herself as very shy before her training and project participation. Now she participates in community activities, even giving public speeches. She has the full support of her family. "I want to build an ideal society with a clean environment, better health and economically strengthened people," she said. She will continue to participate encouraging other women "to join with self-help groups, step out and take part."