by Lutheran World Relief
Dec 16, 2011
Charles Zang, Congregational Engagement Manager at LWR, recounts his visit to India to observe food security projects and to understand the impact of LWR’s quilts and kits. While traveling, Charles met a woman from the village of Hathgarth, named Mani Jli Tudu who is intimately familiar with a particular LWR program.
Mani Jli Tudu, is a participant in a self-help group. Self-help groups are a component of a larger food security program supported by LWR. Made up of 8-12 women, the groups provide support and relieve isolation, while focusing on intentionally engaging women in the agricultural projects. This gives them a way to save a portion of their earnings from the sale of the crops.
Mani recounted one specific instance of support that has forever touched her.
She was so ill one day that she was unable to attend a self-help group meeting. Instead, she ended up sending her son to tell the other women why she was not there. The women in the group were concerned and decided to visit. Upon arrival they assessed her condition and decided that she must go to the doctor.
Mani resisted going to the clinic because of the cost. Previously, when serious illness arose in this village, women had to approach a money lender. He would advance them the money at the exorbitant interest rate of 10% per month. Naturally, she did not want to incur this expense, so she avoided the hospital hoping she would recover on her own.
Her group insisted she visit the health clinic and have her condition diagnosed. They accompanied her and found that the recommended treatment would cost 900 rupees. The self-help group had an arrangement for a loan from their treasury for 900 rupees, but it was all the money the group had saved. There was also the problem of repaying the loan. Even at a low rate of 1% per month it still seemed like an impossible task.
Again, her self-help group was so insistent that they each took a 100 rupee loan themselves from the treasury to cover the cost of treatment. Immediately after receiving the medicine, the woman’s condition began to improve. She returned to health and soon after, with deep gratitude and love for her friends, she began to earnestly repay the loans with interest to the self-help group treasury.