Posts which have been tagged with: women’s empowerment.

Milk in the Morning

This is Jaya Sekar (left) and Vinayakamurthy (right). They meet each morning at 6:45am, when Vinayakamurthy comes to milk Jaya’s cow. Jaya lives in Aranganur, a village on the banks of the Chunnambar river near the town of Pondicherry in India.
Jaya is a beneficiary of Sharana’s micro-credit program. She is 43 years old, and the mother of two girls. Her husband died in an unfortunate road accident this past May. Things had been difficult as a complete family, and now the burden is wholly on Jaya to provide for her daughters. Jaya started a business with a micro-credit loan from Sharana in 2005, with just a single cow. She repaid her loan a year later, in 2006. Between then and now, she has acquired 3 additional cows and sold 2. One died, but was covered by insurance whose claim returned some funds for the loss to Jaya. She now runs her small business with 3 cows, and has 2 calves.
This is Vetrivelan, known to us all simply as Vetri. Normally, he is home with his family in Pondicherry at 6:45am. But this morning, he came out to Angalakuppam to visit Jaya and the village. Vetri is a veteran Sharana social worker who has known Jaya and her business plans from the time of its inception, and who keeps track of how she is doing.

It has rained all night, and everything is wet. Jaya and her daughters live right next to the cows in a simple thatched hut with an open bathroom. The rain makes life all the more challenging.

Vinayakamurthy arrives from Pondicherry to milk the cows. He has been in the milking business for 30 years, and charges a monthly fee for milking and distributing the milk.

Why is Jaya not milking her own cows? It is customary for women to tend to the cows and men to milk and distribute, both for reasons of physical strength and skill, as well as for other social beliefs related to caste purity. Jaya explains that her role is to feed and care for the cows, and assist in the milking by calming them, since they are each so sensitive. She also performs pujas on Fridays to pray for the good health of her animals, and a good yield in milk.

Vinayakamurthy has two sons himself, who have studied computer science and will not take over his daily job. For now, however, Vinayakamurthy feels he is doing good business.

Soon the milk vessels are full of milk. Each cow gives 8 litres of milk in the morning, and 6 in the evening, when the milking process repeats. Jaya sells the milk at Rs. 20 per liter. Vinayakamurthy delivers it in town. Most of it is purchased by restaurants in Pondicherry.

Jaya keeps an account of the liters obtained and sold in her daily record book.

Here, Vetri is discussing the status of work with Jaya and Vinayakamurthy.

By 7:15am, Vinayakamurthy is setting out for Pondicherry town with full canisters of fresh Angalakuppam milk.

Post idea, images, and storyboard courtesy Peter Kabel.

Sharana’s Solidarity Shop Opening

Sharana’s Solidarity Shop was inaugurated on August 30! The shop carries recycled newspaper products, jams, cookies, a line of garments from Raga, and other items from Souffle de L’Inde — profits from the sales of which will be solely for Sharana’s benefit.


As many of Sharana’s supporters and friends will know, Raga is an independent company run by Jyotsna Dutta (who serves on Sharana’s Governing Board) but housed within Sharana’s office on Lally Tollendal Street. The women employed by Raga are typically parents of Sharana beneficaries, and Raga contributes a portion of the montly rental for Sharana premises–a developing example of how a for-profit venture and a social development organization can function symbiotically.

With the Augst 30 launch, however, the collaboration with Sharana takes yet another dimension. With the assistance of Josette of Souffle de L’Inde, an organization which runs such production units for women’s empowerment in Kerala, Raga is now developing products that are dedicated to generating income for Sharana’s programs.

Many of you may have seen photos of the shop opening Sharana’s Facebook page already, but we figure a second look at the products and the community that has assembled to help launch this project would certainly not hurt!

Inauguration of Sharana Solidarity Shop

Upcoming Thursday (August 30th) we’ll open the brand new Sharana Solidarity Shop. The grand opening will take place Thursday, August 30th, 4:30 in the afternoon.

Whoever is interested shall join us!

We’re selling the products which are produced by our beneficiaries in our little workshop.