An alternative to traditional means of livelihood for the villagers

Amritapuri, 12 June, 2005

Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita:
parasparam bhaavayanta param sreyam avaapsyata
[‘By nourishing each other, may you attain supreme prosperity’].

As part of the Amrita Tsunami Rehabilitation Project, the Math has initiated a project to make families living in the Alappad village more self-reliant.

Called Matru Gramam (‘Mother’s Village’), this project aims to equip every family with a means of livelihood, promote programs that can generate income using locally available resources, encourage self-employment, help in community health, sanitation and education, and revitalise local traditions and cultures. Representatives of all the 10 karayogams [local governing bodies] in Alappad panchayat are actively participating in this project.

The Ashram’s involvement in this project will take one of two forms: in the first instance, the Ashram will provide the necessary training, say, in telephone or computer repairing, to the villagers. They must then source for their own business. It is worthwhile to remember that the Ashram has already trained villagers in tailoring, and provided them with tailoring machines.

In the second instance, the Ashram will provide training in making household items like soap, clothes and pickles. The villagers who undergo this training will also receive financial aid from the government. Thereafter, the villagers are expected to assume responsibility for both the production and marketing of these household items. It is envisaged that different karayogams will produce different items. Each will sell their particular product to the other, thus paving the way for a mutually supporting and self-reliant community. The villagers will also be compelled to ensure that their products are of good quality, if they wish to get buyers. These villagers are expected to repay the loan from the government in due course.

In these ways, the Ashram aims to offer these villagers an alternative to their traditional means of livelihood, such as making coir. Ultimately, it is hoped that the Matru Gramam scheme can create matruka gramamideal villages. By thus uplifting the socioeconomic conditions of families in villages the mainstay of India’s culture and heritage the progress of the nation can be ensured.

— Tulasi