A handful of rice leads to sackful of help

Impressed by the ‘All for one and one for all’ effort to beat the spiraling food prices and deepening food crisis, the district administration is now planning to introduce the idea in other areas.

It all started when women from 50 self help groups (SHGs) of Katnapalli village of Rayaparthi mandal (25 Kilometers from Warangal town) started meeting every week at the village panchayat office to discuss various issues such as dowry harassment, unemployment, hunger and health problems.

The group realised that a few families in the village were in dire need of food as the bread winners of their families had either died naturally or committed suicide. Instead of waiting for the help to arrive from the government agencies, these women decided to help the families in distress.  Each women member from the 50 groups was requested to bring along with them a handful of rice when they came for the weekly meetings. The rice is collected in a gunny bag kept in the meeting place.

Each SHG comprises of 12 members, and 50 groups yield 600 handful of rice each week. The rice collected from four meetings in a month, is then carried to each of the needy families. The women from the SHG pointed out that that many old and destitute villagers do not know when the local ration dealer distributes the Government approved rice for Rs 2 per kilo. Then there are villagers, who are too old to go to the fair price shop.

“Both of my sons are alcoholics and do not work even though there is work available under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP) in the near by village,” says Narsimhulu, who depends on the handful of rice supplied right at his door step by these women.

“We provide 10 kilos of rice free of cost. This augments their income. There are many women thrown away by their in-laws in the village, who also benefit from this initiative,” says, Fareeda Bee of the ‘Charminar’ SHG. As the need is only for a handful of rice from each household, women of the SHGs find little resistance from other family members.

“The idea has caught on and men do not stop the women from taking rice from home for the common pool,” says Azmath Ali whose wife is a member at the ‘Ali Self Help.’ Warangal Joint Collector Karuna, who sought details of the initiative of these ‘brave women’ said, “I am touched by the dynamism of these women, which is helping several widows, destitutes, elderly, children and the needy. Pidikedu Biyyam, coupled with other government initiatives, immensely benefit the needy here.”

The district administration is encouraging groups in other mandals to follow the Katnapalli initiative. The SHG representatives were invited to the district headquarters to explain the idea to the members of other groups. “We are happy to see the needy getting some help. But just rice won’t be sufficient as they also need dal for proteins. We hope to address that problem soon,” Fareeda Bee said addressing her fellow members in Warangal.

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