These Feisty Village Housewives Stepped Up To Run Their Families When Drought Hit Their Husbands’ Jobs

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What would you do if the meagre income your family is surviving on, vanishes one day? What would you do if you do not find any other job because you stay in a remote village? Sounds terrifying! Doesn’t it? Families in Paalaguttapalle experienced the same due to continuous droughts between 2010 and 2015. Paalaguttapalle is a small hamlet, with about 60 Dalit families, in Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district. Men and women couldn’t find employment in the village which led to financial distress. The housewives in the village came together and started a business to restore the financial balance in their households.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

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How did the situation change?

The women all sat together one day near the village temple to discuss the issues that are plaguing their village due to continuous drought. Some of them knew tailoring. Aparna Krishnan, who has also been living here since 1995, was there with them. She said she would start looking for orders.

“My husband Nagesh and I moved to this village in 1995, after leaving our city jobs. We wanted to lead a more meaningful and useful life. We bought some land to farm. I also started teaching kids in the local govt school. We practised Ayurveda. We also started working on rainwater harvesting, farming and agricultural issues, livelihood and afforestation.” said Aparna

Aparna Krishnan

When the village economy was reeling due to continuous drought, men lost their jobs and there was no steady source of income. ‘Paalaguttapalle Bags’ venture started with a simple order for 100 bags from Aparna’s friend’s shop in Bengaluru. After the bags were delivered to the shop owner, he liked the quality and they started receiving more orders. In no time, the stitching team grew from one to nine. Now they make tote bags, gusset bags, sling bags, lunch bags with zip and bags with custom prints of logos and designs.

How do they operate?

“Some of us together support the women in some external ways like connecting with the customers, spreading the word about bags through social media and friends, helping them with handling financial accounts and getting the skill training. The women themselves handle all the production work. ,” says Aparna.

‘Paalaguttapalle Bags’ The team

The team consists of Roopa, Rani, Ramila, Nirmala, Annapurna, Lakshmikantha, Anitha, Buji and Kala. From picking up the raw material from the nearby town, making and packing the bags to delivering them to customers via India Post – everything is entirely handled by the women.

The women travelled to Chennai to learn screen printing when the customers started asking for custom logos and designs. Aparna Krishnan’s Facebook friend Suraj’s father Narasimha connected the women to artist Bhaskar, who agreed to teach them screen printing free of cost. Another Facebook contact Vignesh accompanied the women in Chennai during their training days. He took complete responsibility for making it work for them in the village. Arun Kombai, also met on Facebook, with his brilliant design skills took the bags to another level.

Vegetable compartment bag

Confused with the new terminology “Vegetable compartment bag”? See the image below.


Vegetable compartment bag

In recent months, this bag has been a huge hit. This bag helps you to segregate and carry your veggies from the market while reducing the usage of plastic covers which we use normally to preserve vegetables.

“The design of the vegetable compartment bag was suggested by one person. I passed on the idea to the women. In one day, the women came up with the prototype and soon we were flooded by orders,” says Aparna Krishnan.

The bag is made using the cotton brought from Madurai. It has six compartments and is available in two sizes — the large one can carry 10 kgs and the extra large has a capacity of 15 kg.

From local to global

Through word of mouth, the women got orders from many prestigious events. The women supplied the bags for the Organic World Congress and for the Aid India meetings. Orders have also come from abroad – Hong Kong, events in America and Canada and also the UK.

The bag the women made for the jewellery store in Hong Kong

Want to sport one of these wonderful bags as your new style statement? You can reach out to them at [email protected] or visit their Facebook page.

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It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote

‘Happy Fridge’: The Key To Bridge Food Wastage And Hunger Problem In India

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Rahul Khera and Gautam Jindal, volunteers (aka hunger heroes) at Feeding India, were among the many Delhi NCR residents accustomed to seeing hungry children pick up half-eaten burgers or stale sandwiches from the dustbin and savour those with the brightest smiles. Like many others, they also had the will to promote equitable food distribution but was perplexed about the approach, until they learnt about the community fridge initiative which has gained unprecedented success in Saudi Arabia and few other European countries. Meanwhile, community fridges were already being installed outside restaurants or in public places in a handful of cities like Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Coimbatore and Kochi.

Say Goodbye To Throwing Away Excess Food Because Now You Can Donate The Food To The Needy – Happy Fridge

Thank you for overwhelming response for the Happy Fridge concept. We need more funds from you to install more fridges like this across India. With the limited funds avaialble Feeding India was able to install three fridges only. Kindly donate here http://bit.ly/happyfridge

Posted by The Logical Indian on Saturday, October 27, 2018

Needless to mention, with a shocking 103rd rank in the Global Hunger Index and a food wastage estimate of around Rs 58,000 crore – India was perhaps the best country to implement such an initiative. With Gautam’s help, an enthusiastic Rahul invested his own savings to install a ‘Happy Fridge’ outside his residence at Sun City, Sector 54 in Gurgaon. Set up in 2017 by these Feeding India volunteers, the fridge in Gurgaon has inspired the NGO to scale up the project across India.

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

‘Happy Fridge’ fostered many smiles

It didn’t take long for the local residents to learn about this laudable endeavour. They welcomed it, as wastage of excess food was a recurring problem in almost every household. “Intimating the localities was no mammoth task, thanks to social media. However, it was difficult to spread the word among those who actually needed the food,” shares Rahul, who went from auto stands to slums, inviting rickshaw pullers, ragpickers or roadside vendors to avail the community fridge any time they feel hungry. “The security guards of our residential complex played a huge role in explaining how the fridge works to the beneficiaries,” he adds.

The operational and maintenance costs of the ‘ happy fridge ‘ are being maintained diligently by the community members.

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Making memories, sprouting awareness

“I remember one young man who had arrived from a village looking for some menial day job. Somehow he had run out of his paltry savings and had no money to buy one decent meal a day. For about a month, our happy fridge was his solace, till he earned his first salary from a housekeeping job,” shares a jubilant Rahul.

In another incident, a truck driver returning in the wee hours of midnight was starving after a whole day’s hard work. He had run out of cooking fuel at his home, so our fridge was at his rescue.

“The residents keep all sorts of palatable dishes in the happy fridge, ranging from dry snacks, fruits to cooked meals. Sometimes, they even keep raw vegetables, to ensure not a single bit of good food ends up in their trash while other people go hungry to bed,” reveals Rahul.

On an average, each happy fridge supplies around 10-15 meals in a day. The gratitude and pure smiles of the hungry souls after a fulfilling meal are more than enough to continue to motivate Rahul and his neighbours. In fact, inspired by him, many other communities in the Delhi-NCR region set up community fridges in their areas.

Feeding India will set up 500 Happy Fridges

Since the past few years, Feeding India has been a prominent organisation working in the forefront to solve the hunger problem in India. Primarily, they were involved in redistributing leftover food from weddings and parties among the underprivileged people in different cities of India. Their volunteers, better known as “Hunger Heroes of India”, worked actively to bridge the gap between food wastage and food crisis.

“We used to get a lot of calls from individual households to collect their excess food. However, unfortunately, we lacked the manpower and planning to launch our programme on a door to door basis. We were desperately looking for an alternative when we learnt about the community fridges,” shares Srishti Jain, co-founder of Feeding India.

After interacting with Rahul Khera and other campaigners of community fridges, Feeding India decided to amplify this extraordinary project throughout the length and breadth of India. Presently, they have launched the #FightFoodWaste campaign to install 500 community fridges – nicknamed ‘ Happy Fridge ’. So any passer-by – be it a kid going to school without a lunchbox, or a labourer returning home late at night with no promise of a dinner – can now grab a pack of biscuits or a bowl of ‘dal-chawal’ (rice & lentil soup) to satiate their hunger. Click here to contribute for ‘ Happy Fridge ‘ and ensure India never sleeps hungry again.

Feeding India also urges everyone to make a promise to stop wasting food and instead consider donating it to those in need.

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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