Predominantly involved in inter-lending and in providing community support, Self-Help Groups in ACF's core villages are now also playing a role in fighting COVID-19 - by making face Masks!
Across ACF's locations, more than 61,000 face masks have been made and distributed. In some of these locations the SHGs along with Federations and Sarpanches are also involved in mass distribution of the masks at the village level and, in a few instances, at the local police stations.
In Marwa Mundwa, Rajasthan, the local municipality approached ACF for help in making health masks through Self-Help Groups, and over 30 members from 6 SHGs got together and made 7500 masks in just a few days - using their personal sewing machines. These were then distributed to the Nagar Palikas, medical stores, municipality offices and in the core villages.
In view of the urgent necessity, SHG women are dedicating 6-7 hours a day in preparing health masks to fight COVID-19. Once done with their daily chores and family errands, they commit themselves to complete stitching as many masks they can. They have also set aside their regular tailoring work to prioritize making the health masks. Moreover, self-precaution methods are being practiced with them sanitizing themselves and using a mask while preparing the masks. Plans are in place to train many more SHG women and provide them with sewing machines.
As part of the Women Empowerment Program, ACF provides hobby classes to women in tailoring among other skills. This initiative has proven to be fruitful in the current scenario. Women members, completely facilitated by ACF, have turned entrepreneurs seeing this opportunity. From procuring the material to learning to make face masks by producing samples and getting them approved by local authorities/ municipalities - our women have risen to the challenge and fulfilled these orders. ACF works alongside these groups to meet the local demand while providing timely livelihoods to our households.
Forming Self-Help Groups is one of the approaches that ACF initiates under the Women Empowerment Program to engage village women and get them out of their homes. ACF enables and trains these groups to start their own saving practices, learn income generating activities and play a role as family and community leader. Today, because of these initiatives many women have become village decision makers - heading villages as local Sarpanches or Ward Members.