Enterprising couple are an inspiration to villagers in India

Community EmpowermentDisabilityLivelihoodsSelf-help groups

Both Kandhi Gound and his wife, Rukman, have been living with disabilities since birth. They live with their son in a village in central India and marriage is a blessing for them, as they understand each other’s difficulties.

Clockwise from top left: Kandhi on his battery-powered tricycle; Rukman at her sewing machine; Kandhi on his agricultural land and repairing bicycles. Photos: EFICOR

Finding support

However, because of their mobility restrictions, Kandhi and Rukman were struggling to make a living from their land. 

Recognising this, staff from EFICOR began visiting them in their home. They suggested to the couple that they should get involved in a community-based organisation known as the Village Watershed Committee (VWC). 

Reluctant at first, eventually they began to attend the meetings and before too long Rukman also joined a self-help group that had been established by the VWC. They both began to contribute to community discussions and decision making: finding their voices as valuable members of the community. 

The committee put Kandhi and Rukman forward to receive agricultural support from the EFICOR project and their land was levelled and improved. This meant that they could cultivate rice for the first time, using labourers to help, which increased the amount of food they were able to grow.  

There is also the possibility that the couple could renovate their open well with some funds from the project. This would improve irrigation and give the family the opportunity to grow two crops in a year.

‘They both began to contribute to community discussions and decision making: finding their voices as valuable members of the community.’

New roles

Rukman received a loan from her self-help group and, after receiving training in tailoring skills organised by the EFICOR project, she bought a sewing machine. She now earns at least Rs.1,000 (14.5 USD) a month and is able to work seated at home. 

In 2017, the VWC helped Kandhi apply for a loan to help him start a grocery shop. He makes an average profit of Rs.100 (1.45 USD) per day. 

A year later the VWC helped Kandhi to obtain a battery-run tricycle from the government. This has increased his mobility and he is now able to visit towns where there are markets, banks and government offices. He has also learnt how to repair bicycles. Now, whenever he gets time, he repairs bicycles to increase his income. 

Kandhi and Rukman are an inspiration to others in their village and neighbouring villages. They are empowered, fully engaged in village development activities and they are ready to help anyone in need. 

Steps to change  

EFICOR, a Tearfund partner, has identified the following steps which can help people with disabilities find dignity and respect in society: 

  • completion of proof of identity, allowing people to link with various government schemes and access any support that is available
  • training workshops to build confidence and skills 
  • livelihoods support resulting in increased income 
  • inclusion in decision-making bodies, such as community-based organisations, which allow all members of society to express their ideas and share in the discussions and outcomes 

You can read more about disability issues around the world in Footsteps 108

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