For more then a year now, Adya is working with the Wayanad Social Service Society in the North of Kerala (India). We knew they were active in gathering and enhancing the farmers in the district of Mananthavady town and beyond. We gradually found out that they are also participating in regonial development plans.
We discovered a great deal by talking, reading online but off course mostly thanks to our visits to the organization. Wayanad SSS is an ngo driven by the local catholic diocese. From 1974 onwards, the organization aimed at improving people's livelihood, especially farmers. Up till then, the region suffered from high suicide rates amongst farmers. Something had to be done!
What has made Wayanad SSS so succesful is their strong belief in self-reliance and empowerment of people that are often living in the margins of society (see our story from May 27th).
Wayanad SSS is not doing all its activities on its own. It is using resources and tools from the regional and state government initiatives to enhance their programme. It has for example developed Social Welfare Societies (SWS) and Self Help Groups (SHG) with special focus on savings and credit programmes. So the people (farmers and family) are organised to pick up the tools to develop their own lives and entrepreneurship.
We've witnessed those group meetings during our stay in july 2015. Small groups of women, led by one of them, come togheter and discuss financing and budget for their own situation. There is system of internal control and feedback whenever a problem occurs. We felt a kind of structured and supported independence for these women.
This structure gives them space and security. They can rely on help from within that structure, from their peers in the region. They are not alone out there with the small land they often have, they feel part of a community!