Empowering the women of Srikalahasti

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En route the Tirupati Temple, in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh lies the little town of Srikalahasti. The streets bustle with activity, right from the tourists and pilgrims mulling through the streets to shop and get to the temple, to the hawkers and vendors calling out for people to sample their wares.Known for the famous Srikalahasti temple, it is one of the most important places of worship in Southern India. Situated just 36 km from Tirupati, it gets a lot of footfall, yet the communities struggle with socio-economic issues.“The future of India lies in its villages”, said Mahatma Gandhi.

However, it is up to us to help the villages become equipped for the future. The economy of the village primarily depends on the income of the male member of the family, mostly through agriculture. While the men head out to work, women manage the house but aren’t able to contribute in a large way to the household income.In a town where women barely had opportunities to earn a living, HCCB decided to step in and lend a hand. We began work in the neighboring villages that constitute Srikalahasti, like Challapalam, Kapugunneri, Eguvaveedhi, Cherlopalli to set up self-help groups to help the women of the village be able to stand on their own two feet.

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These self-help groups skilled the women in the art of jute and cloth bag and domestic cleaning material making.With vocational training in place, these women easily began taking ownership of their finances. A small step that did wonders for their confidence. Equipped with skill sets, these women were now ready to take on the world and begin contributing financially in their homes.The majority of these villages depended on agriculture, yet the practices being used were not very productive. HCCB stepped in to help them adopt more sustainable agricultural practices. HCCB extended natural farming support to the farmers in Challapalem, Kapugunneri, Eguvaveedhi and Cherlopalli Village.

The pilot project was launched on 12th June 2019 in our Srikalahasti plant premises.We also took steps to help improve the public health in these villages through periodic and specialized medical camps. In June 2019, HCCB Srikalahasti organized a multi-specialty medical camp with specialists that could help address various health aspects for the villagers. There were visits from ophthalmologists, dentists, general physicians, pediatricians and physiotherapists. The community benefitted from overall health check-ups, as cases of previously undiagnosed diseases came to light. The camp also provided pro-bono cataract operations for those that needed it.

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The landscape of Srikalahasti is changing. The women are a force to be reckoned with, thanks to their newfound financial independence. The farmers are more profitable and the environment a little less strained, using sustainable agricultural practices. They can breathe a little better owing to the plantation drives across the villages. The people are better equipped to take care of their own health. A little helping hand from HCCB has transformed the lives of the people of Srikalahasti.

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