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Vijayalakshmi will tell you about Picking Up Life from a Dead End and Blooming Again

If you ever felt unfortunate about your life, take inspiration from this rural woman. Vijayalakshmi, unlike most women we train, is well educated. She studied nursing and worked in a couple of private hospitals in Bengaluru. Then she fell in love and got married against the wishes of her parents. Though communities are more accepting of love marriages in India these days, the stigma hasn’t vanished. Viji could take all that, but her heart broke when her husband stopped her from working. He put an end to her nursing career saying, ‘stay at home and take care of my mom’.

Vijaylakshmi’s husband and parents-in-law did not want her to step outside her home and be a “working woman”. But her inner voice kept asking,“How do I earn my own money? How do I support my community?” She found her answer in The Buzz Green Program.

Since her high school days, she carried an interest in supporting her community. And that’s why the job of a nurse felt special to her. She served for a couple of years in the city of Bangalore, but after getting married, she had to move to Thallapalli village, in Kolar district. Here she was not allowed to continue her job. Patriarchal expectations, stunting of her career and being confined to her home - Vijayalakshmi was crestfallen..

But she couldn’t continue to brood. After attending the Buzz Self Shakti training, she became a Buzz Gelathi. She underwent the Buzz Community Anchor programme and started finding opportunities to regain her happiness. She convinced her husband to help around the village providing nursing care. Though she is not pursuing it to her full potential, this was a good restart to her life. It was during this time that she learnt about the Buzz Green Program. She completed the Community Anchor program a year and a half prior to completing the Buzz Green Program in February 2022. She nominated herself as the Green Motivator for her village. She believed this will be an opportunity to do justice to her childhood aspiration to serve her community.

The Buzz Green module 3 was Vijaylakshmi’s “source of inspiration” to run her own kitchen garden and desi poultry farm. The module taught her how to earn an income while simultaneously taking care of the environment. Food security was an issue that many people like her were facing and this module guided her on how to resolve this. As a nurse, she understands that most issues around ‘health’, especially for women, stem from unsafe food consumption.

A month after completing the program, she started her kitchen garden. Vijaylakshmi realised that the space in her front yard was not being utilised and since she came from an agricultural family, she knew how to grow crops and vegetables without help. Her intention with starting a kitchen garden was to strengthen food security for herself as well as her community. The program made her understand how everyone in her village has fallen prey to unhealthy food practices. For example, people often consumed hotel food - especially those who did manual labour far away from their homes. Most people in her village perform physically taxing work and therefore it becomes of utmost importance that the food they consume is safe.

She now has over ten drumstick trees, over fifty kanakambara (firecracker flower) flower plants, and a few lemon trees. These three plants provide her majority income. The added benefit of a kitchen garden is the income! She earns close to Rs 10,000 just from selling drumsticks and kanakambara flowers; the former procures her Rs 4,000 per month and the latter Rs 5,000-6,000 per month. In addition to this, she also grows chikoos, brinjals, tomatoes, ladies fingers, and some other vegetables. All of this allows her to make Rs 3,000-4,000 per month! From earning nothing she now earns Rs. 14,000, on her own.

Vijaylakshmi has also started her own desi poultry farm in September 2023 with the same purpose of enhancing food security. She initially made an investment of Rs. 1,000 for two chickens, to test the waters and see if this was a task she could take up. Upon learning the nitty gritties of desi poultry farming, she felt confident to manage more chickens. With an investment of Rs. 10,000 from her savings, she got fifty chickens and constructed a coop for them on her own using scraps. She designed the shed for her animals in such a way that half of it houses the chickens while the other half is earmarked for three cows. Vijaylakshmi has drawn out a plan and according to that she can earn Rs. 15,000 per month in the first few months.

As a Green Motivator, she has conducted a session on desi poultry farming in her village using all the information she learnt during the Buzz Green program. Vijaylakshmi focused on why ‘desi-poultry’ farming is important and how it can reap several benefits for them, in terms of finances, environment and health.

During a Buzz Beehive session (solidarity sessions in villages for women to problem-solve together), Vijayalakshmi even conducted a session on plastic recycling to help women reduce waste in their homes. Her commitment to waste-management motivated her to get a licence for truck driving. She has now applied for a job as the garbage truck driver for her village since she wants to personally ensure that her village is litter-free.

Upon asking Vijaylakshmi what changes she has experienced after the Buzz Green Program, she said, “I am earning my own income. I have a licence to drive a truck. I am stepping outside my house. Most importantly, my husband is taking initiative to support me in my business by selling my produce in the market. I would not have imagined this even a year ago.” Vijaylakshmi is now looking forward to expanding her poultry farm and constructing her own home with the money she has earned.

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