In 2000 Blossom Trust created hundreds of self help groups (SHGs) as part of the Tamil Nadu Women's Development Corporation.
Together with the help of Blossom and the government, these groups participated in training, organized public health initiatives and supported each other financially.
Starting in 2000, women came together to receive training and gain new skills. Several types of training were given over the years, such as training in masala making, agricultural skills training, business development training, technical training and financial training. Some training days were organized by the government, while others were organized by Blossom Trust. The women receive a certificate for each training they have completed, which in turn helps them to get better jobs.
Out of the Tamil Nadu Women's Development Corporation our Poomalai project was created. Blossom outreach workers would regularly go into the villages to help the women of the SHGs with any questions they had. The Blossom team kept records of the SHGs by creating passbooks, in which all details were recorded. Blossom also provided training to the leaders of the SHGs on how to maintain the ledgers.
As part of their work, SHGs organized different events to help the entire community.
In one village an eye camp was organized, where people could come and check their eyes. As most women live in rural areas, going for these kind of check ups often requires some travel to bigger towns. To overcome this obstacle, eye camps were organized in the village.
Several people were taken to hospital for eye surgery, with the help of our outreach workers.
Another event organized by our SHGs was the building of public women's toilets. Open defecation (OD) is a common occurrence in India, especially in rural areas. Aside from issues with disease and pollution, OD puts women at greater risk of harassment. To address this, several SHGs came together to advocate for public toilets for women.
A safe, dignified public toilet for women was built, and the SHG contributed to the cleaning and maintenance of the toilets.
Our groups have been very successful and several of them have been awarded with prices for their work. On several occasions, our SHGs were given the opportunity to participate in state level training, due to the success of the groups at local level. This has further developed the skills of the women. The groups are still active and continue to support each other. Blossom aims to continue with training opportunities for all our SHG members and to increase the amount of groups in Tamil Nadu.
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