|Name : Manemma
Village : Tekur
Mandal : Nyalkal
Activity : Buffaloes
The Sangham began work in our village 5 years back, and it was 60-member strong. Fortunately, we do not have any water problems, and we have sufficient grazing grounds. So, the Sangham gave one buffalo each to half the number of members. We looked after them well, increased their numbers, made money selling milk, and used the dung to make natural manure pits. So, economically, we are much better off. We have self-employment and increased local resources at our disposal. We are rid of quite a few of our family problems, so we are very happy now. When we go to work, we pick up fodder for our buffaloes, and keep them properly nourished. We have paid up all our debts, which is a big relief for us, because you cannot imagine how our lives were plagued by debts earlier. The natural manure that we prepare has also helped increase the crop production. " cooli kayam, barre kayam, appulu anne thempinamu eenka paisalu, migilinavi" (cleared all the loans and saved some money) Life has really brightened up. We are grateful to the Sangham for bringing this change in our lives. Just imagine any one giving us a loan without charging any interest! We are so glad the hellish days of the past have gone--the days of bonded labour, low self-esteem, caste discrimination, and social invisibility. Now, we have a voice, a voice that resounds in our villages loudly enough for the village barons to stand up and notice us.
Name : Elamanti Naganna
Before the Sangham was formed, we used to work as bonded labour. We had no choice, because we had no money to call our own. So, even though we had two acres of land, we could not take care of even one acre. This want of money drove us to the feet of Patels and other big people who would make us sweat and toil.
Ten years back, the Sangham came to our village, and it totally changed our lives. As Sangham members, we began to realise how strong we could get to be, if only we understood the wisdom of unity. Earlier, we were financially at the mercy of our masters, but after the Sangham taught us to save, pool our resources, and stand on our feet, we began to enjoy the sense of self-reliance. After I had saved money for two years, I wanted to buy a bull, and the Sangham said that I could have one if I pitched in just 25% of the cost. It advanced the rest of the amount, that is, 75% of the cost. This was the beginning of my progress. I not only put the bull to work, but made money selling dung. Yes, in one year I sold five bullock carts of dung. And from the money that I had made, I bought 2 acres of agricultural land. Then I thought I should have one more bullock, and the Sangham, once again, readily agreed to advance the amount. Now I have two bullocks, and three acres of land. With the help of the bullocks, my family and I cultivated our lands and raised a variety of crops like, jawar (Sorgum), green grams, red grams, anumulu (Fieldbean), Chikpea, sesame, and tella kusuma (Safflower). The bullocks not only helped us cut down the labour charges, but also enabled us to earn additional money when we rented them out during the ploughing season. Sometimes we got the returns in cash, and at other times in kind, for example jaggery and stuff like that. With time, we also learnt how to use dung for preparing vermicompost. This is also bringing in some income for us. So, we now have our own land, our own foodgrains, and our own cattle. Our children are married and well-settled. We are no more haunted by the nightmare of "jeetam"(Pay), and the chronic dependence on "Saukars" (the village rich) for money. The bullocks have really brought us luck.
" edlu vachhina nunchi nene naa bhoomilo 20 rupala cooli echhi
pani chepisthunna, memu kuda full panichesthunnam (after gaining the
bullocks we could able to save Rs.20 per day towards bullock ploughing
wages. We are also contributing our labour). We have constructed a house
as well, and I can tell you happily that both economically and socially,
we are feeling very, very secure. The Sangham really has given us the
chance for a life.