Ten miles is a short distance for most of us, but for some women and children in rural India it means isolation from the rest of the world and probably during all their lives.
When I visited Parandih village in the District of Deoghar, Jarkhand, with Kiva Field Partner MicroGraam and their partnering NGO MESP, we were a big group caching the attention of many villagers. Being the only non Indian, for most kids I was probably the first foreigner they’ve ever seen.
This rural village of a hundred homes, like many in India, is not all that far from the main district town, 10 miles away. Roads (paved and unpaved) are there, but there is no public transportation. Grid is there, but there is no electricity. Banks are not far, but no one takes 50 cents deposits - all that villagers can afford to save. Water hand pumps are there, but the water it is not potable. Schools are there, but teachers do not show up. No sanitation, no health care.
These minority communities live a simple life. They do not know a better life. Men might travel to nearby towns looking for work in construction, factories or agricultural fields, and sell or buy products, but most women, with no means of transportation, and unbearable heat, do not go any further than the next village, usually a replica of the one they live in.
With no land suitable for agriculture, many people migrate looking for work and end up living in slums and by railway stations. Were they better off in the village? With the Self Help Groups (SHG) movement that started a few years back and the support of amazing NGOs like MESP, there is hope for a clear YES.
MESP helps these rural communities of marginal households by promoting livelihood, like dairy, rearing goats, and poultry, as well as micro-enterprises like tailoring or all kinds of small shops, preventing rural exodus to another type of a miserable life in an urban area.
By lending through MicroGraam and its partners like MESP, any distance will be no distance, and 10 miles will no longer mean isolation but opportunity.
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Mariana was born in Lisbon, Portugal. She is passionate about travelling and always eager for new experiences in new cultures. No wonder Mariana pursued an international career at the Portuguese Trade & Investment Agency (AICEP Portugal Global). For more than a decade, she has been dedicated to the promotion of Portugal and the Portuguese companies and products around the world. Her last assignment was as the Economic and Commercial Counsellor at the Consulate General of Portugal in Macao, P.R. China, cumulating with being the Portuguese Delegate at the Forum for Economic and Trade Co-operation between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries (Forum Macau). Previously, Mariana helped open and run the Agency branch in San Francisco, CA. She returned to Portugal as a desk officer for South America and Spain. Earlier positions and jobs were in marketing and international business. Mariana graduated from Instituto Superior de Ciências do Trabalho e da Empresa (ISCTE, Lisbon) in Business and Administration Management, and studied at Glasgow University under the EU/Comett II program. After travelling to developing countries, she feels the need to contribute to a fairer world. She is taking a sabbatical to volunteer as a Kiva Fellow and is thrilled to working with field partners in Peru, Bolivia and India.