Lady Sri Ram girls touch lives in remote R'than village

A bunch of Delhi college students are changing women’s lives in a remote Rajasthan village by imparting education, helping pensioners and marketing handicrafts made by locals.

With a little help from the woman sarpanch of Soda Village in Tonk district, the students of Lady Sri Ram College are doing their bit to improve the lot of the women by organising them into self-help groups.

“Till date, about 700 women have been organised into groups of 10 each,” said Lavanya Garg, one of the students who have formed their own NGO, called Asmat.
The college students have been able to inspire the women groups to pool in money for saving and produce and sell various items.

Village sarpanch Chhavi Rajawat, an MBA and a former student of the LSR, has been helping the all-women NGO.

Garg said: “We as a team aren’t profit-oriented. If we are able to make a child read and write in English, that is our biggest achievement.”

“My visit to Soda has so far been one of the most fulfiling trips of my life. Chhavi Rajawat has been our inspiration to stand up to your beliefs, an inspiration for change,” said Garg.

Anahitha Sagar, another student, said she was enjoying her work in the village. “The people here are so simple. Even if they have one roti, they do not hesitate to offer it to us.”
Gender equality and enhancing financial literacy among Soda women are also the focus of Asmat.

“We have been working in the village since October 2013 on issues of education, governance and sensitisation,” said an NGO member.

Various surveys, including the one on the efficacy of the pension schemes, have also been carried out by the students. “The aim was to see whether the pensioners got their money on time,” said Sagar.

Currently, the women here do not have much of a market for their products. “Asmat hopes to find retailers or distributors to sell their beautiful handicrafts and organic products in cities,” said Sagar.

In addition to working with the SHGs, the LSR students have also held interactive sessions with adolescent girls on women-centric issues such as menstruation, girl’s role in society, girl child education and future ambitions.

“We are currently working on introducing recyclable sanitary napkins in the village,” said an NGO member.

The NGO recently finished with its first batch of 2015 summer workshops that targeted three sections: farmers, women and children, she said.

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