Once a farmer dies, the burden of supporting the family falls on his wife. With little or no education, and a poor financial background, it is a tough job for a single woman, especially in a village, to overcome the several odds and succeed.
Kottrapatti village in Pudukottai district is like any other village in the country. But the incidence of widows in this village and surrounding areas is quite high.
Having lost their husbands, the ladies were finding it difficult to carry on with their daily work and also take care of their children.
Most of them were unable to obtain one square meal a day or send their children to school. They were neglected and in some cases sexually exploited by some male members in their village.
The women were also trained to produce their own organic inputs.
says Mrs. R. Maruthambal, a lady farmer:
“I lost my husband, a chronic alcoholic, seven years ago, and found it difficult to take care of my three children. With no money and work. I did not know what to do for food. I even contemplated suicide, but backed out at the last moment because of my children. But today my life is better, thanks to Kudumbam. My two children are going to school and I am able to lead a decent life,”
Another beneficiary, Mrs. M. Pakkiyam, says:
“After my husband died in an accident 5 years ago, my in-laws chased me out of the house labelling me a misfortune.
“My parents were also not keen to take me back as they had three other daughters who needed to get married. I turned into a vagabond overnight with no food and shelter. If not for these people I would have killed myself.” At present there are about 15women in this group and all of them are taking active interest in the work.
A portion of the harvested produce is kept for food and some is saved for sowing in the next season. The rest is sold and the income is equally divided among all the members.
In order to increase the economic development of the women, a revolving fund of Rs. 20,000 has been created.
Members can avail loans from this fund and repay it in easy monthly instalments. In fact, this fund has reduced their dependency on private moneylenders who charge a heavy interest which ranges from 40 to 60 per cent on the loans.
Kudumbam an NGO in Tiruchi has been responsible for all these developmental works.