Umeed brings hope from despair

Excelsior Correspondent

National/ State Rural Livelihood Mission being run as ‘Umeed’ in Jammu and Kashmir has produced path-breaking results in poverty elevation and financial inclusion among the targeted lot and areas.
Focusing on stabilization and promotion of existing livelihoods portfolio of the poor in farm and non-farm sectors, Umeed, an economic development scheme, provides poor families, particularly woman member(s) an opportunity to organize or join Self Help Groups (SHG)s for productive activity and contribute in household income.
Mumtaz Begum, wife of Sadiq Mohammad is a member of Self Help Group (SHG) named Islamic group. She is 38 yrs old. She lives in Nora village of Block Basohli. Her educational qualification is under matric. Her husband is a labourer and earns much money. Mumtaz   has three children- two sons and one daughter. Due to poverty, she is unable to send her children to school. She lives in a small kuccha house in her village lacking bare minimum basic amenities of daily living.
Before joining  Self  Help  Group,  she used to do the domestic work. Her family’s financial condition was pathetic and one day she came to know about Umeed (JKSRLM). An ICRP team visited to her village and she came to know about working of Self Help Groups. The team members   made them understand, how Self Help Groups are formed and work. In the starting she was not interested to involve in these activities because her husband did not allow her. But after motivation she became a member of Islamic group in 2013. In the beginning she started saving with Rs 50 per month. Firstly, she took a loan of Rs 5500 from her group for the education of children. Then she took a loan of Rs 10000 from Village Organization (VO) for meeting their household needs.
After repayment of loan, she again took a loan of Rs 10000 from Village Organization and bought a sewing machine. It improved her living condition a little as she started earning. After that she again took a loan of   Rs 15000 and bought two goats. Then after repayment of loan she again took a loan of Rs 25000 and bought a Cow. After some time she started selling milk in the market and started to earn Rs 10000 per month.
Encouraged by her improving economic condition of her family, she bought another cow for which she took a loan of Rs 20000 from the Village Organization. In her journey towards prosperity, the biggest encouragement was that she never found it difficult to take loan and repay it.
The years saw her growing both economically and socially. Her speaking skills improved and in association with the Self Help Group she also visited OMPLIS (Andhra Pradesh) for training.
Need not to say that today Mumtaz Begum has gained much courage to speak if there is any other social issue in her village. Self dependence and opportunities to take decision and discuss issues as a member of Self Help Group has completely changed her personality.
There are many other women like Mumtaz Begum in J&K who have been able to overcome their hardships after joining SHGs.
Self-Help Groups have given them an identity. Through Self Help Groups they also come to know about various programmes run by government. Umeed helped Mumtaz and over eighty Thousand other women of Jammu and Kashmir in their progress from poverty to Self dependence and from social insignificance to social identity.
Leela Devi a member of SHG    Ambedkhar and Village Organization (VO)   POCCHAL A2 tried her hand in running Beauty Parlour, with savings of 5000+6000. Leela has availed Rs eighty thousand loan so far including RF Loan of Rs 5000, VO Loan of Rs 34,000 and   Bank Loan of Rs 25,000.
Before joining UMEED her living condition was pathetic as her family could hardly afford two meals a day. Her husband was unemployed and could hardly find any work that too on irregular basis. However Leela Devi was well trained in beauty parlour, but due to scarcity of money, she was unable to translate it into viable livelihood. According to her, UMEED provided the necessary support and encouraged her to translate her skill into a gainful and viable livelihood. She started earning Rs 4000 to Rs 5000 per month and after that she received Rs.34,000 from VO loan and purchased a cow. She also received a Bank loan of Rs.25,000  and purchased another cow and in this way she started multiple livelihoods in her family and now she  is earning   between Rs 10000 to  Rs. 15000  a month.
Aneesa Bagum member of SHG ‘Bismillah’ Village Organization Banderna has established a    Poultry unit after availing Rs 45 000 loan including RF of Rs 5000, VO Loan Rs 20,000 and Bank Loan Rs 20,000. Her journey after joining UMEED has been really the one from despair to Positive Hope.
Aneesa got married in early age, hence could not continue her studies and soon got two kids. She lives in a joint Family consisting of eight members; she was desperate to help her family by doing something gainful and increase its income. As she narrated, her family members would often discuss and think about establishing a small poultry farm but her dream couldn’t see the light of the day due to poverty and financial crunch.
But after joining UMEED, she decided to take the challenge.  To begin with she took loan from RF of Rs. 5000. She and her husband decided to expand their small poultry rearing activity which they had taken up for domestic purpose, into a full time commercial activity.
“My husband also managed Rs 5000 and we purchased 600 chicks @ Rs 12 per unit from the market. Rest of the money was spent on purchase of poultry feed and other items. After rearing them for near about 40 days, we started to sell them in local market. My husband also opened a vendor shop in the market and started selling chickens. We were now able to run a successful business and are also regular in repayments including group fund amount to the group and VO” she narrated.
As their business grew, she received Rs.20,000 loan from Village organization  and more Rs 20,000 from  Bank.   Today Aneesa and her family are running the business at a much large scale and   earn Rs 10,000 to 12,000 per month.
The mandate of J&K State Rural Livelihood Mission (SRLM) or UMEED is to reach out to all the poor families, link them to sustainable livelihoods opportunities and nurture them till they come out of poverty and enjoy a decent quality of life.
Towards this, National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM) puts in place a dedicated and sensitive support structures at various levels. These structures work towards unleashing the innate potential of the poor and complement it with capacities to deal with external environment, enable access to finance and other resources, and with their own institutions at different level. The institutions play the roles of initiating the processes of organizing them in the beginning, providing the livelihoods services and sustaining the livelihoods outcomes subsequently. The support structures need to work with the unemployed rural poor youth for skilling them and providing employment.