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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Rural Livelihoods and Sustainable Living: Case-55: LAXMI ESHWARAMMA – BORN TO LEAD!

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45 year old Laxmi Eshwaramma and her husband Pulliah were very poor. Without adequate rain their small farm yielded nothing.  She was also illiterate. But none of these factors could stop her from becoming the President of the Mandal Mahila Samakhya and the Chairperson of the Residential Bridge School (RBS) which provides education to several child labourers.

When the APRLP was introduced in Cherlakothur village in Veldurthi Mandal of Kurnool district, the livelihood coordinator encouraged her to join a self-help group as it would help her. She joined the group in 2000 and was a very active member. In 2001 she was elected to become the leader of her group. She
attended night school and actively participated in all the activities undertaken by self-help groups.

There were 14 groups in the village. Among them Laxmi Eshwaramma’s group was voted the best, achieving an A-1 grade. This was the result of her hard work. The next year she was elected president of the village organisation. Seeing her success and being motivated by her, many other women in the village started joining self-help groups. As president of the village organisation she was instrumental in getting gas connections for 25 members, under the project.

In 2004, thanks to her hard work in trying to develop the village, she was elected president of the Mandal Mahila Samakhya (MMS). She became well known and she ensured that her Mandal was recognised at the district level. After her election she worked hard to improve the grades of the self-help groups to A and B, and get them linkages with banks. She also helped those from the backward classes to get government support. She supervised and visited all the groups in the Mandal and got money from the revolving fund sanctioned to financially backward groups.  She also arranged a sanction of Rs.400, 000 as
revolving fund for the village organisation of which she was earlier president. In addition she got financial assistance of Rs.12, 000 for each group in the village under the Dalit Empowerment Project (DEP). She ensured that every quarter 15-20 women were given training in tailoring and stitching under the enterprise promotion scheme of the project. She rescued about 80 children every year from child labour to provide them with education and care in government residential schools. These children
were later shifted to AP Residential Schools and A P Social Welfare schools.

All the officials encouraged her involvement and active participation in development activities, and all the women’s groups in the Mandal recognised and appreciated her effort.

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