Thanks for the initiative of Vanavasi Kalyana Karnataka (VKK), which is bringing smile on face of tribal women residing in remote hamlets of HD Kote and Periyapatna. The organisation transforms the lives of hundreds of forest-dwelling women by educating them on various aspects and motivated them to take up various vocational activities.
The women who were earlier wasting money, time, are now determined to become economically self-reliant. Through SHGs the women fraternity who had invested Rs 10 six months ago, today are reaping the fruit, by saving around Rs 3,000 to Rs 4000.
Tribal Woman 40-year-old Chikkamani of Chammayanhalli in HD Kote says: “The hardly saved money was spent for purchasing liquor, beedis. But, after becoming the member of SHG, we are investing the amount at the SHG's. Today we have saved around Rs 4000 in SHG. This is the first time we have saved such a huge money and we feel proud for it.”
Devamma of Ankanthapura Hamlet says: “We are seeking loan from bank to improve activities at SHG's. Other women in the hamlets are motivated and are coming forward to become members of SHG's. Our life-style has totally changed.”
Vanavasi Kalyana Karnataka strongly believe in the dictum, 'Loss of Culture is Loss of Identity'. With this, they are educating forest-dweller on various aspects of modern life, without giving up their roots.
The women are taught about several ways to generate income. They are made aware of the workings of banking procedures while encouraging them to take up savings, lending, borrowing money paying interests, marketing and several similar issues. Also, enhancing their skill on packaging, marketing, including awareness on minor forest resources.
Apart from all this exposure, women are made to actively involve in group activities like singing Bhajans and outdoor sports programmes. Younger members of the tribal family are been provided training on health matters (Vaidyakiya Kendra), so they can offer medical assistance for certain common ailments.
The forest-dweller are also motivated to take up farming activities under the banner 'Krushikendra'. Around 60 volunteers are rendering service in Mysore division, of which majority of the them are tribals.
Southern India Committee in-charge member Sathya Keerthi said that "there are numerous instances where tribals are misled and exploited by money lenders. We create awareness about rules and law of the land under our 'Vachanayalaya' programme.
The goal set by the volunteers of Vanavai Kalyana is to open centers across all districts by 2025 and make all tribals self reliant, without making them lose their traditional values and cultural practices, he added.
HD Kote VVK volunteer Lokesh, a tribe and resident of Basavangiri Hamlet said that 12 SHG's have been formed in HD Kote and Periyapatna in the last six months and they are undertaking a survey covering the districts of Mysore, Kodagu and Chamarajanagar to set up more SHG's in phases manner.
The organisation has its branches spread all across the country including Nepal. For the past two years a Divisional Center has been functioning in Mysore, comprising of districts of Chamarajanagar and Kodagu. Across country, 3500 volunteers are working, of whom nearly 50 per cent are tribals, he added.
'Constitute committee to study the status of tribals and forest'
NGO Deed (Development through Education) Director S Srikanth has urged government to constitute a committee to study the status of tribals and wildlife at the Nagarahole National Park, in connection with food security, drinking water facilities and overall development of forest.
The committee shall be constituted under the chairmanship of Thinker Prof H Govindaiah, comprising of tribal leaders, forest officers, Ngos, Environmentalist and activists.
He was speaking at the day-long discussion held on 'Protection of Wildlife and Tribals at nagarahole National Park' at Hunsur recently. The event was jointly organised by DEED and Girijana Kriyakoota.
'Due to space constraint and lack of food, scarcity of water animals are straying towards human habitat and man-animal conflict is reportedly increasing. Tiger Reserved Area is being declared. But, the tigers are struggling in the reserved area with scarcity of water and food,' he observed.
Further highlighting other problems at the forest, he said: “About 40 lakes, five river streams, hundreds of small ponds have dried out at Nagarhole National park. 1/3 of the forest is covered by Teak, Nilgiri, Acacia tree, apart this the growth of weeds has increased in forest. The trees have grown tall and it has become difficult for animals to reach the tree branches.”
'Its high time government should take appropriate measures to rejuvenate the lakes and protect flora and fauna. Measures should be taken to plant fruits trees such as Mango, Jack, Jambhul, Custard Apple in the forest to provide livelihood for forest dwellers,' he added.