Projects - Economy

The pursuit of education is highly rewarded in Sister Jessie’s teaching.  The mothers who send their children to get the basic education are considered for various financial projects, but only if they comply with the requirement of maintaining a bank account. 

As long as the women are able to save Rs.50 to Rs.100 to open a bank account, Sister Jessie contributes an equal amount into their account as added incentive.  Once this first step is achieved, Sister Jessie talks to the bank manager and arranges to have an account opened.  Very often the manager is reluctant to open an account for them but with the insistence of Sister Jessie it is finally done and the women very proudly show their passbook to be considered for one of the following projects:

Chicken Project:  The mothers are provided with money to buy a couple of chickens to care for which would provide them with eggs for their use and also some income from the sale of some eggs or chickens.  Eligibility for this project is conditional on them agreeing to save a little of the earnings in their account.

Pig Project:  Mothers are given Rs.300 each to buy a piglet.  As the piglets grow and multiply they provide a source of food and income (from the sale of new piglets).

The following are examples of successful economic development projects undertaken in previous years:

Cow Project:  In 1999, each of the families of the children receiving basic education were given money to buy a cow.  This was on condition that the first female calf, after being weaned, was given to Sister Jessie so that she could give that calf to another family.  This project was a great success.  Milk was the primary source of nutrition for the children and the cow dung was used as fertilizer or dried as disks and used as fuel for cooking.  Out of the 700 cows that were provided to the families only 2 died.  An anonymous donor provided most of the start up money for this project.

Fish Farm Project:  People from different villages joined together to build two fish farms in 1999 and two in 2001.  These farms serve as a source of food and income for 50 to 70 families in each village.

Kitchen Garden:  Women were encouraged to start a vegetable garden for their own use.  They were brought in groups to the Ashram and shown the basics of how to set up and maintain a vegetable garden.  Cow dung served as fertilizer and Sister Jessie gave them beans, peas, okra and chilli seeds to get started.  Now it is encouraging to see the number of small gardens that originated from that initiative.

These initiatives are on going for Sister Jessie:

Roof Project:  This is the ultimate goal for many of the villagers – expected to be completed

by the end of 2004.  The income they have been earning and saving is to be used to upgrade the roofs of their homes from the traditional material of straw to tiles.  This will protect their homes from getting damp in the rainy season.  The cost of putting up tiles is approximately Rs.3000 ($100.00) for each roof.  Sister Jessie is committed to doing what she can to help out the families that have not saved enough.  This of course will depend on the amount of money she has at the time.

Blankets:  Every year when the cold season sets in, Sister Jessie supplies blankets and vitamins to the elderly in the villages.  Since Sister Jessie has no means of taking the supplies to the villages, when people offer donations she suggests they buy blankets and accompany her for distribution.  This enables the donor to present the gift in person and meet the people who are receiving it.

Women’s Council:  Sister Jessie has encouraged each of the villages to identify two women representatives to bring forward an account of the progress in their village as well as any related concerns.  This council is the ultimate demonstration of ownership, community and commitment. The representatives meet in the Ashram every two or three months from 11am to 2pm and at the end of the meeting they are provided with their favorite meal of Kichidi - a mixture of dhal, rice and vegetables cooked together and eaten with fresh hot green chilies.