In mid-December, 2021, Meg Huebner of AWIU’s Grant Committee received a status report from P. Sagayamary Tamilarasi, Secretary of the Society for Women, Education and Economic Thrust (SWEET), located in the village of Veedur in the Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu, India.
SWEET was the recipient of a 2021 American Women for International Understanding (AWIU) grant to fund a livelihood project for this organization that concentrates on improving the lives of women with HIV, poor widows and their children.
The SWEET project funded by AWIU focuses on providing goats to women who need to support their families. Prior to taking the goats home, the women attended a two-day training in which they learned how to rear goats, including housing, feeding, immunization and medical aid, sales and revolving loan strategies. Thirty-six women participated in the first training.
The AWIU funds were used to purchase 108 goats for the 36 beneficiaries, with each woman receiving three milking goats (two female and one male).
Among the women and families who now have a trio of new goats to care for and can look forward to a regular income are:
Mathiazaghi, 16. “My father is a migration laborer and my mother died six years ago. I was confirmed with HIV when I was studying 9th standard. At present I am studying 11th in Government Periyatachur Higher Secondary School. My maternal grandparents take care of me. They are old, so they cannot get jobs that pay them enough for us to live on. I contacted SWEET after hearing about their revolving fund. My grandparents take care of the goats and I am able to attend school regularly now. In six months, we expect a decent income from the goats that will be enough to support my family.”
Anjalatchi, 50, and her husband, Munusamy, 55. “We both suffer from HIV. We have three children, two girls and one boy, and we were facing tough times because of our bad health and could not live a decent life. Luckily, I found SWEET.”
Jayanthi, 35. “My husband Elumalai died four years ago. I have three children that I could not afford to educate. We were living on the wages I earned from working irregular jobs two or three days a week. I approached SWEET and they suggested I join their self-help group, which was very useful.”
Veerammal, 38. “My husband died three years ago from HIV. I have two children. I approached SWEET and told them about my family’s condition. I joined their self-help group, underwent the training, and am now feeling much more secure.”
These four women are taking care of their goats, and will soon have a viable income to on which to support their families. They are grateful for the help; all of them know that AWIU is behind the grant funding their new enterprise. The commonly shared feeling among all 36 women is, as Jayanthi said, “I am thankful to AWIU and SWEET for breathing new life into me and my family.”