Worshipping Laxmi

Worshipping Laxmi

The broom is an ordinary object of daily use but is essential to every household. It is such an ordinary thing that any literary piece beginning with the word broom might be mistaken to be as mundane. However, what is more surprising is that there can be a village where the broom is unavailable for sale. However, this is exactly what the village MasleChaudhari in Solapur faced. The village faces a dearth of many other essential commodities, but the broom is just an example of what kind of scarcity the village faced. Today however, the situation has changed. The women of the village now get good quality brooms delivered to their homes. This seemingly small change is however, a major step ahead for MasleChaudhari. Earlier, they needed to travel to Narkhed, to the town nearby or to Solapur. With the dearth of transportation, this was a tough task for the village women.

The village had a population of nearly 2780 people. The villagers mainly worked as farmers or as daily wage labourers. SavitribaiPatole was among those villagers who was working as a farmer. Since she did not have land of her own, Savitribai had to work as a daily wage labourer in other fields. Even though she is in her fifties, she has to toil in the fields. Her daughter has been married off, and so it is only her and her husband at home. Her husband too, is of frail health, which leaves her in sole charge of household responsibilities. He only handles the goats and their welfare. He cannot work in the fields. In such a situation, Savitribai has to toil in the fields for four months and is then left to live on that money for the rest of the year.

Savitribai is a member of the Ramai SHG. She is grateful to the group since it has helped her in dire economic situations. She has borrowed from the group many-a-times, and since she is so grateful to it, she regularly pays her dues to the group. She had thought of a business from a long time, but she was unable to decide whether her age would allow the physical labour involved in the business. Being from the Mang community, she had learnt the family business of making brooms. Just when she thought of starting the business of making and selling brooms, she learnt of the Maharashtra State rural Jeevanonnati Scheme and the community investment fund that it was offering. She was inspired by the thought and dreamt of starting a business from the money received. She was part of the Ramai SHG which was under the ambit of the Prerana Gram Sanstha and she applied for a fund of Rs 12000 from the fund. She knew that the women in the village needed it, and so she decided to make it for them.

In September, once her fund was approved, she went to buy the raw material required, the leaves, branches and the rope required to make the brooms. She was trained well in the craft of making it, and so the business began immediately. She was able to make sixty brooms a day. The work was not too taxing, and she could sell about 10 brooms in a day. She earns a profit of Rs 10 on every piece, and since she can do it from the comfort of her house, she can pay attention to the house, her livestock and her work. She has now reduced her work in the fields since this work is more rewarding and easier for her to do. Her musculoskeletal complaints have stopped since she does not toil in the fields as before.

The best part of her work is that she is not employed only four months of the year. She has the freedom to work and more importantly, earn, all round the year. Moreover, her daily earnings in the field never exceeded Rs 70 a day, here, she comfortably earns Rs 200-250 a day. Savitribai goes door to door to sell her produce, and her brooms have great demand in the newly inaugurated weekly market that started from June 20, 2014. She is happy seeing the demand her produce has in the market, and she has even repaid the first installment of the community fund that she borrowed.

Even the other women of the village are happy about Savitribai’s business. Earlier, they had to go long distances and undergo great toil to get brooms, now they get them delivered at home. Savitribai’s workmanship is excellent, so the brooms last a long time and are of excellent quality. If there is some problem in it, Savitribai promptly repairs them for the women. Due to all these factors, the brooms Savitribai makes are popular in all the surrounding villages.

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