The Shanyidan Colony is located in the surroundings of Khurda. The less colourful area is a clear contrast with the other villages, but respectively for a reason: this colony is the home of 35 families with members that were affected by leprosy.
We were received by eight female members of the Baba Rahuriath SHG. With everything ready for a demonstration, the first thing they wanted to do was to show us their new machine for coir crafting. The ladies are skilful and very proud of their business, which was awarded not too long ago (they proudly showed the award when we sat for a brief talk). The new machinery has increased their production 5 fold. Before getting the machine, they produced 10 kg of rope in 8 hours, now they produce 50 kg in the same time and it only require 2 women to work with the machine while the other women can take care of other business-related activities. They all have plans of what they would like to do with their profits and are very positive about achieving them.
With an individual loan from AMPL for a toilet and another for house improvement, Marati wanted to show us the new toilet that she was able to build. To get there, one has to pass by the leprosy asylum and a street with people walking around showing the scars of leprosy. Mirati’s toilet is not yet finished because she still needs to get the water connection that is expected to be installed in the colony within a week. She is one of the three members of the group who has taken the toilet loan, and hopefully she will inspire other group members to do the same.
As everybody prepares for the closing of the two-week God Shiva festival activities, I go back to the hotel with many impressions and experiences. One thing is for sure, these women I have met today are forging their future with their hands, literally and figuratively. They have grabbed the opportunities and continue working hard to fulfil their dreams: a refrigerator, a motorcycle or a new picnic together. And these decisions are in their hands.