Parwati Kanwar awarded the prestigious Golden Talent Award for her exceptional work in Village Amka, Thanagazi Block, Alwar (Rajasthan)
“Social taboos and customs that prevented women from standing equal to men are vanishing gradually. Today not only women but even men consult me on important matters’, says a proud goat rearer, Parwati Kanwar after being awarded the prestigious Golden Talent Award by Heifer International.
Parwati joined the Radha Krishan Self Help Group, initiated by Ibtada in late 2007. Since then she has been an active member of the SHG and has motivated other women in her village to join similar groups. There are now a total of five SHGs in the Amka village. Parwati is a recognized and respected leader at the cluster and federation level and is presently the Chairperson of the Chetna Mahila Manch, a federation of SHG groups.
As an active SHG member Parwati joined the Ibtada project on goat rearing, supported by Heifer Project International (HPI) through which she received three goats. The key philosophy of HPI’s support is fostering 12 cornerstones among project participants, facilitating an overall development in the quality of their lives. The core principle of these cornerstones is 'pass on the gifts', according to which a member who receives any kind of benefits (material, training or information) from the project has to pass it on to the next needy member. For example, goats distributed to one household under this project as an income enhancing tool have to be reared and the female kids born are passed on to a needy family in another group. The family which initially receives support from the project is termed as the original family and the livelihood asset as the original gift (OG) and the family that receives goats is termed the 'pass on family’ and the kid goats are called the pass-on gift (POG).
Parwati now has five kids from her three goats of which two male kids are being reared for sale during the Eid festival. The remaining three kids will be passed on as a gift. The two male kids that Parwati is raising are expected to be sold for more than Rs.10,000 each. Like Parwati, other members of her group who received the initial gift of goats are also ready to be a part of the ‘Pass on the Gifts’ ceremony. “I feel extremely motivated by the cornerstones since for poor families like ours, it is beyond imagination to be able to help others. The cornerstone training has evolved our thinking process and members look forward to sharing, be it material belongings or knowledge. It has also helped us in changing our perceptions of the caste system and we now co-exist as an equal society unlike earlier”, says Parwati.
A large portion of the goat milk is consumed at home and forms an integral part of their daily diet. On certain days the surplus milk is also sold to nearby households.
Despite being uneducated Parwati attended training programmes on financial literacy and is now able to impart the training to other SHG members. Her husband, Hanuman Singh has also attended one of these trainings, and is very supportive of Parwati’s efforts. “I do help Parwati with the household chores whenever she is out for work. I acknowledge her efforts for the family and community”, says Hanuman Singh.
Early this year, Parwati took a loan of Rs 15,000 from her group to buy a buffalo. The sale of buffalo milk brings the family Rs 2000 per month and she has already repaid the entire loan amount. The various training programmes organized by Ibtada have enabled Parwati to initiate kitchen gardening and also increase crop production on the family’s small plot of agricultural land. “There is enough food for the family now and I have also grown fodder on a small portion of land. My dream is to construct a concrete room for my family”, informs Parwati.
Parwati has emerged as a change agent involving herself with a number of social and development issues in the village, mobilizing and guiding other women to be self-reliant.