Will a group of village women voluntarily gather as a support group? Will they be open to discuss their problems with the group? Will they sustain camaraderie? We had all these doubts when we thought of the idea of Buzz Jenugudu (or the Buzz Beehives program), a self-sustaining peer group of women who can support and empower each other. But we went ahead without getting weighed down by the doubts. Today, we feel if we didn’t implement the Jenu Goodu Program we would have stunted so many opportunities for change – like this one.
Manjula is a 38-year-old woman from Sulibele in Hoskote District in Karnataka. She lost her husband, the sole earning member of her family, eight months ago. Her husband ran an oil mill in the village, which went silent after his death. Manjula didn’t have the courage to restart the mill, as she didn’t know how to sell the produce. Her husband used to take the oil to nearby villages in his vehicle and sell them. For Manjula, this didn’t seem feasible.
When Manjula walked in to attend the Buzz Jenu Goodu meeting in her village, she felt a sense of hope. She spoke up, shared about her situation and sought their advice. This group of 25 women, all who underwent Buzz’s Self Shakti training, are from the same village, from similar backgrounds as Manjula’s and who know how things work in the village. For them, Manjula’s situation was something that they could relate to, and they genuinely wanted to help her. They gave her support, courage and a bunch of ideas.
One idea that Manjula thought she could implement was to restart the mill along with a small shop in the village to sell the produce. This way, she wouldn’t have to travel village to village like her husband did, and yet get customers. They also suggested that she could take a loan from her Self-Help group to start the shop. Manjula also attended the Buzz Vyapar training (Buzz Business) that’s aimed at empowering rural women entrepreneurs with necessary skills to run their small businesses.
With all the necessary support and guidance, Manjula went back to get the wheels of the oil mill chugging. She approached two Self-Help groups that she was part of and got loans from both. With the funds coming in, the mill restarted, and the shop became a reality. The women from the Jenu Goodu group did their bit by spreading the word and recommending customers to shop at Manjula’s shop.
“I thought I couldn’t do this on my own. But I got so much support and encouragement that I felt courageous enough to take decisions and rebuild my life”, says Manjula. That’s what happens when women are given a chance to change. They stand up for each other.