Meena inspires young girls in Orissa

The 'Meenas', as the young volunteers of the project are known, have taken up several socio-economic, health and sanitation issues while spreading awareness among the people, particularly women in Bagadia and Mangarajpur gram panchayats.

Officials of a fertiliser company had visited the panchayat to undertake some developmental projects as part of their corporate social responsibility. For better results, they laid emphasis on empowering women and children through execution of projects, Rabindra Mohapatra, Sarpanch of Mangarajpur gram panchayat, said today.

Over a dozen Meena clubs comprising young girls and housewives have come up in Bagadia and Mangarajpur GPs since March. They are doing good work in spheres of public health, sanitation,community hygiene and self employment, he said.

The voice of hitherto voiceless girls is being heard as they were impressed by community participation. They are guided by motivation and self involvement", says Prasanna Routray, Sarpanch of neighbouring Bagadia gram panchayat.  They have taken up mushroom cultivation which help them augment income.

Government funded household toilets were left imcomplete due to fund shortage but after 'Meena' clubs intervened, fertiliser maker Paradeep Phosphates Ltd (PPL) financed for their completion, the Sarpanch said.

'Meenas' have also taken to plantation of nutritional and fruit bearing tress. Many of them are now learning computers for self employment, Mohapatra says.
Initially, male members were hesitant over women's involvement. After girls evinced interest and did good work, housewives also joined with consent from men folk. They are being financially supported too, he said.

Over 250 families have accepted the categorisation of beneficiaries for getting external support and the work has already started. Similarly, cleaning of the village every Sunday has become a practice now in Bagadia village where people now realise the importance of clean surroundings, says Rasmita Behera, who leads a group with 25-30 Meena girls.

Our Meena Club took up mushroom culture and it is giving us good return. Three-tier mushroom plot fetches us Rs 12,000 every month. Marketing is not a problem. Traders from Paradip are reaching at our doorsteps to buy the produce. Twenty members involved in mushroom cultivation earn at least Rs 600 every month, she said. Krishi Vigyan Kendra, Jagatsinghpur, gives technical guidance to these girls and housewives.

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