Caroline who lives in Ireland was visiting Southern India. She contacted us about children’s clothes which she had brought to India. The clothes have now been distributed to some of our children and she also visited our centre and sent the following email.
My visit to a Nandri Mothers’ Self Help Group meeting
More than 3,000 women in some of the poorest areas of rural Tamil Nadu now have their own successful little businesses thanks to the help of Joseph Abraham (Joe), managing trustee of Child Aid Trust which is Nandri’s partner in India and Nandri’s Micro Finance programme, funded by Irish donors and recently by #LCIF (Lions Clubs International Foundation).
Yesterday, I had the privilege of visiting Nandri in person, meeting some of these inspiring women at their monthly group meeting and hearing their stories.
Some of the women have received a modest loan (€350) from Child Aid Trust/Nandri to start their own income. One of the women I met proudly told me about her tailoring business, another has bought a cow, while a third lady is now making shoes. Because of their micro loans and hard work, they are all now able to provide better lives for their children.
As well as these micro-finance loans all of the mothers save Rs.100 each month. This is about the amount of money which they earn for a days work in the rice fields. any mother can also borrow from their own group. All of the savings and repayments are relent each month.
It was lovely to see all the women smartly turned out in their colourful lilac-and-white sari uniforms which they wear to their monthly meetings. These Dalit mothers are proud to belong to a group. They clearly enjoy these get-togethers where they save each month, repay their installments, share their experiences and catch up with each other. From start to finish they were full of enthusiasm, chatter and smiles.
I was particularly impressed by how well managed the programme is and how supportive the women are of each other. Every loan and repayment is carefully and clearly accounted for by a local Nandri staff member using the individual and group reporting set up by Joe. The women have their own individual loan account books which, as well as repayment details, also include a page where they write what their children would like to study in the future, e.g. to be a nurse or engineer. These mothers are determined to make their businesses a success so that their children can have a better education and future than they have had.
Nandri do not receive any interest or fees from these loans. Instead, the women contribute a small 1% fee into a fund towards college education for children of members within their own group.
Although working on shoestring and also running other activities, Joe and Nandri are aiming to have 4,000 mothers and families benefiting from their membership this time next year. Impressive indeed, especially since this programme was first started four years ago, in 2012.
Aside from the Micro Finance programme, Nandri’s other local initiatives including a sponsor a child programme, evening tuition schools and skills training for adults.
Joe and Nandri also have other great initiatives and ideas which they can implement with a little more funding. They are strong champions of social improvement through education and community empowerment because it works. It was really remarkable to see first-hand how they are experts at stretching even the smallest donation to make a huge difference.
If you’re thinking of donating to a charity that can make your money go a long way, I recommend without hesitation http://www.nandri.org