Little by Little

Project Title

Alternative Economy for Young Widows in Kadapa District, Andhra Pradesh, India as a  fall-out of Covid-19

Themes

Sustainable Livelihoods for young widows

Child Protection

Safe Housing

Economic Growth

End Human Trafficking

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Project Summary

Vijay Foundation Trust Association (VFT), popularly referred to as "Aarti for Girls", has been a partner of Women’s Education Project, US (WEP) since 2012 (www.womenseducationproject.org

VFT has been in the forefront for over three decades in addressing the issues  of  children and young women in the district of Kadapa. Aarti Home, an initiative was set up for the abandoned children. 

 

WEP, US  selected VFT to enhance their implementation by offering Leadership Academy Program.

WEP’s Leadership Academy provides an inclusive, exploratory, environment for young women from marginalised backgrounds to discover their inner spark, nurture their leadership potential, enhance their socio-emotional well-being (SEL), while transitioning into careers and alternative livelihoods of their own choosing to gain economic independence and become leaders in their homes, communities and society. At the core of the Leadership Academy are its four pillars - 1) Grassroots - A community-based, culturally sensitive approach to mentoring young women, 2) ‘Sisterhood’ for creating a secure and welcoming space for young women to connect, share and be themselves, 3) A holistic education model that cultivates not only their academic but also social and emotional life-skills and 4) A life-long support network that young women can safely rely on.


Over 625 young women have successfully walked out of the doors of VFT, under the Leadership Academy of WEP, to pursue their dream careers or starting their own enterprises.

The issue of Covid in 2020: Issue, Problem and Challenge

The Covid -19 has thrown   challenges across the globe.  In the above project, we found the young women could not attend the regular classes. But by the use of technology the VFT hosted online sessions for each batch of its students. 

The organisation   was in the forefront to provide support for the communities around. It was then found that   cases of Covid Widows was rising. There are nearly 6500   Covid widows in the State of Andhra Pradesh. In the district   Kadapa, alone we have identified 403 widows have been identified,  in the first round  of a scientific survey that was undertaken.    The age of these widows is between 16 years  ( In some parts of India, child-marriage is still rampant) to 35 years of age.

 

There are many pathetic stories of these 403 widows with their children have been disowned:

  • By the in-laws because she is considered as a bad omen. 

  • As a widow, she cannot be part of any celebrations. This is embedded in the cultural context in many communities across India.

  • They find it difficult to go back to the parents who are in dire poverty. 

  • In this kind of situation these women can become victims of trafficking and they are forcefully taken to Arab countries or City Brothels.

  • The absence of skills   adds to exploitation

  • No daily wage work in agriculture farms, have added to their increasing challenges. 

  • They have to take care of children too.

  • The children are unable to go to the government schools due to lockdown and distance. 

  • Some of them are forced to   live of streets or Unsafe Shelter Homes

  

The Project envisages to address the issue of    post Covid young widows of Kadapa District

  • Provide the initial psychological and counselling support and help   them to resolve the situation they are in. 

  • Identify safe places to house them

  • Semi Covid   orphans in Kadapa District of Andhra Pradesh. Enrol them to the local schools. 

  •  Provide  nutritious meals for the mother and the child

  • Identify the young widows below 25 and enrol   under Leadership Academy  program, if they have completed the high school education or were forced to give up schooling due to early marriage or were forced into low w earning jobs. A Satellite centre would be set up. Using mobile phones sessions would be held

  • Assess their aptitude for varied skills. A Stipend will be provided during the training period. A timeline of 2 to 6 months is required.

  • Those   beyond 20 years, if they do not have aptitude for studies or skill training, they would be guided in enterprises like :

    • Donate cows, buffaloes and sheep.

    • Provide  seeds for setting up kitchen gardens for growing leafy and regular vegetables that enables them to consume and also sell locally

    • Provide initial small grants for starting small provision and daily needs shops.

    • Set up small eateries for simple food. 

    • Chicken rearing 

    • Fish farming 

  

All the above activities will be done in the Kadapa District of Andhra Pradesh, South India.  Volunteers  from Social development institutions and colleges would be enrolled to roll out the programs. The local Community    leaders and professionals from Management intuitions and Alumnae Associations would be  partners in this endeavour.

WEP-US  has its WEP-India office. Women’s Collaboration Lab has been set to support their Indian partners to identify resources for setting up such initiatives and provide handholding through capacity building and training etc.  

The Rationale of implementing this successfully

VFT Association has successfully implemented the protection of girl children, by opening their doors of Aarti Home and have partnered with the EU for their program of ‘Girl Child’.

Saved many foeticides  of  girl children. Through its awareness programs, the community have been sensitised to care for the girl child. The District Authorities have selected the organisation for setting up the ‘Child Helpline’ for the entire District.

 

VFT also runs a ‘College’ for the underprivileged. Along with the Leadership Academy, each student also studies for academic regular studies.

Thus addressing the present issues of the Covid Widows and their children will be possible with the funding support of donors and philanthropic institutions. Through the Campaign of Global Giving under its campaign – Little by Little, we would like to highlight the issues of young widows and their children.  

We envisage a stakeholder participation in the campaign of Global Giving Platform like:

  • Individual donors

  • Funding agencies

  • Impact investors

  • Corporate entities 

  • Foundations

  • Government Institutions.

  • Philanthropy Institutions

 

Requested Funding Amount

 

In USD - Smaller funding goals $97,480
 

Donation options 

In USD - Smaller funding goals $96,380

Donation options 

Total Families: 60

Total Widows: 60

  1. Cows/buffaloes for 15 women @ $1100 per cow/buffalo (15*1100=$16500)

  2. Sewing machines for 45 women @ $215 per machine (45*215=$9675)

  3. Milk and eggs for 95 children at $ 12 per month per child. (95*12*12 = $13680 per year)

  4. Books for 95 children at $15 per child per year. (95*15=$1425 per year)

  5. Full day meals for 95 children @ $25  per child per month (95*25*12= $28500 per year)

  6. Uniforms for 95 children @ $30 per child per year (95*30 = $2850)

  7. School fee for 95 children @ $250 per child per year (95*280 = $23750)

 

Solvable problem

The second wave of the Pandemic has struck a fatal blow across the country.  When the breadwinner has died, the young widow is displaced since the in-laws disown her and she is forced to fend for herself and take care of the children.  They are not equipped mentally, physical and financially. If they are not provided sustenance the children land in orphanages that are unsafe. Traffickers hunt for them and women are pushed into ‘flesh trade’ and sometimes get into criminal activities/

 The solution to this  issue is to support the  widows    so that they can become self-reliant and earn a sustainable income and take care of their children.  VFT through its strategic intervention, as mentioned in this proposal envisages to rebuild and empower these women to a respectable and sustainable path of living. The processes planned and as spelt above, brings them out of   brokenness, to a hope that raises their self-respect, self-esteem and self–worth.

 

Long term Impact 

Identifying an issue has been an ongoing process in ‘Development’ intervention.  The Development  Stakeholders like Practitioners, NGOs, Government, donors, philanthropists, institutions, bilateral agencies etc. have   proved that identifying issues, work around in  building solutions and make a sustainable impact on communities has always been successful with long term positive changes.

Thus Stakeholder participation is essential to address the issues young Covid issues and semi orphans and orphans. The role of the local NGO with three decades of high repute, financial stability, transparency and compliant to the law of the land. Having excellent local partnerships, with Academia, District administration, other NGO networks, established donor relations like WEP and European Union.  We envisage the 403 widows and their children will be lifted above the life of drudgery will be lifted up/Thus WEP, WEP –India   and VFT together will be able to establish a potential long term impact.