Welcome to Newsletter 15. In this newsletter you will read about the continuation of work with our Self Help Groups and the beginning of our work in Health Awareness in the villages.
We will still work with the Self Help Groups for approximately six months, we are told at this stage, while the details of each member of the groups is checked by Jeevika and then the group will be absorbed as is by them, if the group has been meeting regularly. If not, the group will be reformed by Jeevika with new members and they will take over working with the new group.

News from our monthly reports
Monthly Saving and Meeting -  Is regular in around 80% of groups. In remaining groups, due to formation of new groups by Jeevika with some members of our groups, it is not regular. Also some group members,
 who are loan defaulters, are not participating in meetings. Field staff are making contact with them, and they are saying they will repay money but they will take a long time.
Staff member Madhuri  on right in SHG Meeting

Sunita, Staff Member far right with SHG and  Cash Box 

Amy’s Visit to Our Program
In May this year Amy Tuxworth visited our program. Below is a report of her visit by her, and also by Shrawan.
From Amy: I travelled to Bodh Gaya as part of a documentary I am making on the topic of Women’s Empowerment. After meeting Wendy and Graeme by phone through a mutual friend, I knew that WEIV was going to be an important element of the documentary.

My initial thoughts for the documentary were to focus on the oppression of women in India, and although this is a very prominent issue, quite the opposite was present in my journey. I was coming face to face with an organisation that is really empowering the women in extremely poor villages. With the help of a translator and the coordinators from WEIV, Shrawan and Sarika, I travelled out into 4 major villages to document the process. It was overwhelmingly inspiring to see how this small NGO could have such a huge impact in over 55 villages in Guraru Block. I not only interviewed the main Self Help Group (SHG) leaders but also the SHG members. It was incredible to see them stand in front of the camera with everybody watching, speaking with such confidence. Not only have the SHGs given these women a chance to share their problems but they have allowed them to gain enough confidence to become self-sufficient, go to the bank, take loans and ultimately bring something to the community. As a result of WEIV these women are empowered and have gained more respect from their family and community.

As I interviewed Sarika, the main coordinator of WEIV, it was mind blowing to see how much passion and confidence this organization has given her. I felt truly inspired and I believe this has been passed on to many women in these villages. It showed me how communication and support can change a lot of human beings and will continue to be passed on to future children in India.
Amy with Sarika and Village Children
From Shrawan: It was a nice day for us when Amy from Australia appreciated our work very much during a field visit to Guraru. Amy shot film of the many types of Income Generation Activities like vegetable cultivation, vegetable selling, dairy, a portable flour mill, crockery , generator set and sewing work which are being done by the members of SHGs in the villages. Amy also conducted personal interviews with Sarika, Shrawan, Renu and some members of SHGs. Amy talked to SHG members and some staff members during the interviews, regarding the objectives and programs of our organisation, the all-round impact of the SHG program on SHG members as well as the general community.
From Wendy: It is wonderful to get such positive and corroborating feedback from a visitor to our program. Thank you Amy. Amy has promised to make a short documentary for us that we can put on YouTube to use for promotion of our program. We look forward to receiving it and uploading it to the web!

Success Story
Name of Member: Manju Devi, Wife of Sanjay Prasad
Name of SHG: Pragati Mahila SHG, Village- Dadnapur, Panchayat- Ghatera,
Date of formation:12/12/2005, Bank Name-Punjab National Bank, Mathurapur
Family Members Details

Name Relation Age Gender Education
Manju Devi Self 33         years Female Tenth
Sanjay Prasad Husband 36         years Male Matric
Anuranjan Kumar Son 14         years Male Ninth
Raju  Ranjan Kumar son 12         Years Male Eighth
Jyoti  Kumari Daughter 10         years Female Sixth
Shilpa Kumari Daughter 05        Years Female One
Anshu Kumari Daughter 03        Years Female Not going
Condition before joining SHG: This is the success story of Manju Devi who was very poor. Her husband was a small farmer. Her big family had great difficulty due to scarcity of money. It was a very miserable condition for them. They were not able to fulfill the minimum essential needs of the family like at least two meals a day, education for the children, access health facility, clothes etc.
After joining SHG:  Staff motivated poor women to form a Self Help Group to alleviate poverty and make them self-reliant and it was formed on 12th December 2005. Manju Devi joined this Group with great hope. She took loans many times for agricultural purposes and repaid them on time. With the help of ARD staff, Punjab National Bank, gave a 300,000 Rupee ($6,000 AU) loan to Pragati SHG for Income Generation Activities and the Group gave 50,000 Rupees ($1,000 AU) to Manju Devi on 24/11/2011 to buy a second hand Autorickshaw. Sanjay Prasad who is the husband of Manju Devi is driving the Auto from Mathurapur to Guraru and as a result they are earning around Rs. 200 to 300 ($4 to $6 AU) per day . Now Manju Devi and her family are very happy. She is giving good education, sufficient food and other essential things to her family and her children are going to after school tuition as well as school.  She has almost repaid her loan to the Group. So, we can see the SHG is playing a very vital role to develop the poor community and bring prosperity and happiness into their lives.

Manju Devi and Autorickshaw

Health Awareness Program
As an introduction to working with Health Awareness in the villages, our staff have met with various groups to ascertain the health problems prevalent in the villages and village people’s knowledge in this field. Below is a report from these meetings. 
We have organised separate meetings with adolescent girls and boys, young men and women, older women and the general community in many villages.  We came to know about the health problems in different age groups and their knowledge level regarding general health, reproductive and child health, and adolescent health. Following are the findings of the most prevalent diseases in their villages. 
Adolescent Girls and Young Women: Irregular menstrual cycle (MC), pain in stomach and waist during MC, excessive bleeding during MC, leucorrhoea, duration of MC is too long or too short, two times MC in one month, child marriage, discharge of water from vagina, urinary tract infection, vaginal diseases, swelling and tumour in breast, hair loss, headaches, anaemia, loss of appetite, body aches, numbness in hand and leg, physical weakness, acne and boils , dark circles on face  etc.
Sarika andStaff Member Renu in Dihuri village with  adolescent girls and young women


Sarika  with  adolescent and young women  at Marha village

Premlata, far left in meeting with adolescent girls and young women

Adolescent Boys and Young Men (Married and Unmarried) - Sexually transmitted Infection/diseases, child marriage, impotence, Hydrocele, sperm discharge with urine, HIV/AIDS, physical weakness, loss of sleep, infertility, hair loss, acne, boils  etc.

Above: Staff Members Ashok and Dinesh 
with young men and adolescent boys. Below: Shrawan with young men and adolescent boys.
Childhood Health Problems: Diarrhoea, jaundice, typhoid, tetanus, pertussis (whooping cough), diphtheria, pneumonia, infection in ears and eyes, pain in stomach,  tuberculosis, chicken pox, vomiting, swelling in stomach, skin infections, polio, anaemia, worms, teeth problems, stuttering, cold and fever, eye sight problems, brain fever, malnutrition, malaria, measles etc.

Health problems among older women and the general community overlap with the above lists, so we did not include them here.

Health Awareness Training
In early October all WEIV staff will undertake a 4 day residential training in Patna, with an organisation called Virinchi. This initial training will cover Reproductive and Child Health. It is commonly known that village women will often suffer severe health problems and not speak up about them. The training will inform our staff of the facts in this important health field and also enable and support them to go into the villages and encourage a more open approach to women’s health issues, encouraging both women to be more informed and willing to discuss their health problems and for men to support the women in their lives with their health issues. A full schedule of the training, which makes very interesting reading! is posted on the website here
WEIV Involvement with Family Planning
WEIV staff met with the Health Manager and the Block community Mobiliser of the Primary Health Centre of Guraru Block. In this meeting both of them requested the staff to motivate members of our SHGs to undergo temporary and permanent Family Planning or Birth Control. WEIV assured the Health Manager of their support in this very prominent program because it is a very important part of WEIV’s progam as a women’s empowerment organisation. Staff also told us that they consider it their moral duty to support this work. As a result of this meeting, WEIV staff attended a Family Planning Camp where tubal ligations were performed, at the Primary Health Centre, Guraru. Our staff have encouraged members of their SHGs to have this operation, but most members said they will do it in the winter season because then women who have the operation will recover very soon as it is not a busy time for agriculture. In spite of this, five members had tubal ligations and two members got a copper T birth control device . Four staff members Suman Devi, Sarika Sinha, Premlata Devi, and Sunita Devi came with the women and spent the whole night with the patients and next day they went with them to their homes.

SHG  Members who had family Planning Operation with WEIV staff at Primary Health Centre Guraru.
*Please note, it is not our preferred policy as a Women’s Empowerment Organisation, for women to have tubal ligations. We are keen to see the men taking up the option to have a vasectomy as it is a far less invasive procedure for them. We have spoken with staff about this and they agree and we have written to Virinchi, the Reproductive and Child Health training organisation and requested that they inform staff fully of the advantages of vasectomies over tubal ligations and that they support staff to advocate for this option in an informed way, both with village men and women and also with the Guraru Health Clinic, taking into account possible misinformation, resistance and cultural implications. This is Virinchi’s response: “We do agree with your concerns and keeping these things in mind we are designing the training program in such a way that the participants will have a fair understanding about the values of vasectomies versus tubal ligations, myths and misconceptions related to vasectomies and how male involvement can be ensured in Family Planning initiatives. During the training, we will also equip them with the requisite knowledge and skills for addressing these issues at the community level. We are also in the process of developing the communication materials which they can use as a tool for mobilising the community and make them aware about their entitlements and rights.”

Child Marriage Eradication Program  
Recently Sarika and Shrawan attended a day long program organised by LSSK, our financial auspicing agency, who are also involved in Women’s Empowerment Programs. The objective of this program is to create awareness among the community to stop Child Marriage, which is very common in the villages of Guraru Block, and to highlight to villagers its negative effects physically, financially and socially on women, families and village society. Doctors, Social Workers, Village Representatives, adolescent girls and boys, young men and women, and older men and women have participated in this program. Shrawan and Sarika informed all staff of what they had learned at the next staff meeting.                    
Staff Picnic
Staff and Families at Rajgrih
All staff with their families went to Rajgrih and then to Kakolat waterfall for a picnic on 16th of June. We reserved a bus for this tour and cooked food at the picnic spot.
Picnic India style - food preparation
We had a natural spa bath with the hot water in Rajgrih and then enjoyed the very cold water under Kakolat waterfall.
Swimming - India Style
We enjoyed the day very much. Everyone was singing songs on the bus during travelling. It was an energizer for all staff.
Thank you very much for your kind support for this.

​WEIV logo: WEIV stands for Women's Empowerment in Indian Villages and is the new name we are working under in India, as explained in our last Newsletter. We would like to have a logo for the organisation which is simple, elegant and implies the work we are doing. If you can design one, or know of someone who can, could you please contact us. 
News from Australia
Lismore Carboot Market: Our stalwart crew of volunteers continues to help once a month, although sadly Linda has had to pull back. Many thanks to her for her hard work over the past almost 2 years. Any locals who could donate a few hours on the third Sunday of the month would be received with grateful smiles and hugs. It's a buzzy stall and fun to meet the customers, some of whom you will be bound to know. Simon continues to donate organic free range eggs, which really boost our income -thanks Simon. Donations of clothes, books, cds, dvds and the odd special piece of bric a brac that could fetch a reasonable price are most welcome.  See the box below for details of whom to contact. 
Thank you to all those who have donated in the past.

Bruce, Linda, Jozie and Wendy surrounded by our stall offerings

AGM: A reminder that the AGM will be held on 13th October at 2 pm at Wendy's place 12 Chilcott St, Gundurimba. 
Secretary and Treasurer's Reports
Election of office bearers
Change in the Constitution
Latest news from India
Fundraising in Australia

All Welcome
Please arrive at 1:30pm in time for a 2:00pm start.
extend a warm and grateful Thank You to all of our Members and Donors.

Become a supporter of ARD by donating monthly or as a one off. Please visit our website
Volunteer your time on our stall, offer your skills, set up an ARD support group, hold a presentation in your home. Please contact us. We'd love your support!
In the Norther Rivers? Check out our stall at the Car Boot Market in Lismore 3rd Sunday of the month. Goods to donate? Ring Bruce on 66220485 or Wendy on 0401013333.