“It was in 1977 that we have started to put a lot of energy into social work and to set up Self help groups and skill trainings for poor women from urban, rural and tribal areas around Karamadai,” Rev. sister Anila from the Good Shephard convent in Karamadai, Tamil Nadu tells me. She is really amazing. I met her two years back for the first time during a very short visit. Today, we are running a workshop together with women from different Selfhelp (SHG) groups. These women have been trained for many years now on different life skills and income generating activities. One of these activities is tailoring and embroidering.
When I come to the workshop more than 25 SHG women are in the room. They are very interested and keen to find out what will happen. In one corner of the room they have set up an exhibition on the works they have done so far. There are some very nice items, bags, napkins, children toys… They sell it locally, but the income is still low and they do not have enough work to run a better life. Most of them are widows – which makes life even more difficult in India – others are rather young and want to learn more for a better future. They all are organized in groups and since this has happened their life is going to change: They have participated in writing and reading trainings, become part of world women days, learned about savings and gained basic business knowledge.
Explaing the tailored game
For the Making More Health initiative(www.makingmorehealth.com) where I’m involved in we are planning a tailored game. So, why not ask them to do it? We have a lot of discussions around the game, singing and excitement about the future work. They like it. I really believe that they have the right skills.
When I talk about the cards which we will prepare and add to the game, some women even start to ask which kind of cards these will be. “Well,” I explain, “we will work out the question and answer cards with the target groups themselves, mainly we will produce them with anganwadi teachers on health-related issues, but also for social entrepreneurs we are working with and who run a variety of diverse projects all over the world. And then probably also one for German people and what they should know about India.” – “What should the German people know about India?”, one woman asks. – “For example how many languages are spoken in your country or how many people live here”, I answer.
A gaming session with the SHG women
They continue to ask me for a second and third question… Within a few minutes many women come to the table, gather in front of the template game and want to play. So , we do a kind of quiz about India together and they do not want to stop…
I think we have to prepare some more MMH games and cards – for these Karamadai SHG groups. The women really like this way of combining learning and playing. They are proud that -by tailoring the game – they will not just have some work and income for the next weeks, but can contribute to bring more knowledge to the world about health and India, too.
Many thanks to the Good Shepherd Sisters for the support to make this happen!
By the way, please find here a few pictures on what the SHG women produce: kindergarten bags, blouses, napkins, scarfs… – in case you are interested to get more information on the articles, please let me know.