Failure, the pillar of success

Mirju Champia

"I was empowered with my smart phone and the PoP app that not only guided me with the best way to raise livestock, but I also got very important tips on how to save them from diseases. All my fear was washed away and I felt confident."

Mirju Champia, a mother of two, lives with her husband in the village of Churgi, which is about 25 km from the Manoharpur block of West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand state. Here she lives with her husband and two children.

A few years back, one of her main worries, was how to feed her two children well every day. Being one of the most poor families in her village, there were days at a stretch when the entire family had to sleep on empty stomachs. Not only was she weak and tired all the time, but also lacked the confidence to talk to anyone. She had no knowledge about any government scheme or service her family qualified for, or how to win the struggle for existence she was faced with.

She spent sleepless nights, stressed and unsure of what the future held for her family.

In 2012, her life started to turn around when a field worker from Andhra Pradesh SERP (Society for Elevating Rural Poverty) met her to inform her that the Jharkhand State Livelihood Promotion Society (JSLPS) would be forming a Self Help Group (SHG) with her and 12 other extremely poor women of her village. The new members named their group “Sarna Mahila Samuh.” The group started meeting weekly and saving INR 10 at every meeting.

Moving forward, she took out a loan of INR 4000 from the Community Investment Fund of her SHG to start her livelihood activity, spent some of it for her household expenditure and used the rest to buy hens for rearing. Unfortunately for her, all the hens died from flu. This was a major setback for Mirju and she was heartbroken.

However, at this critical juncture, Trickle Up started surveying the area to select participants for its intervention, and Mirju was selected as a participant. This gave her the opportunity to attend the trainings Trickle Up organised on livelihood planning, vegetable cultivation, small business management and livestock management. Mirju took a lot of interest in vegetable cultivation and planted tomato, chilli and ladies finger in her garden. From this she earned around INR 8000. From this amount, she spent INR 5000 on the construction of her house and INR 3000 for her household expenses.

The next step to follow was the opening of a bank account in her name at the Canara Bank branch of Chhotanagra. She could not contain her joy when she received the first instalment of the seed grant of INR 1000. Never had she thought about having a bank account to her name!

She immediately bought chicks for rearing and used the rest of the money to cultivate long beans and tomato, making a profit of INR 6000. With this, she bought two sheep. When she received the second instalment of INR 2000, she promptly bought a goat to add to her livestock.

“I never thought that after the first setback with the hens, I would ever have the courage to invest in livestock again. But this time, I was empowered with my smart phone and the PoP (Packets of Practices) app, that not only guided me with the best way to raise livestock, but I also got very important tips on how to save them from diseases. All my fear was washed away and I felt confident. I feel proud to own a smart phone,” smiles Mirju.

The PoP application is like a pocket coach that helps Mirju understand how to raise her livestock properly, what kind of vaccinations they need, how to care for them in the right way and also helps her understand their market value. She is now an informed user. She knows where to access the information from, and how to procure the things that can keep her livestock healthy and help them grow. The ‘Package of Practices (PoP)’ mobile application developed and designed especially for women like Mirju having low literacy. The app provides planning tools, best practices and connection to livelihood coaches to help her grow a variety of lucrative crops.

From not even knowing what a mobile phone is, and spending her days in worry, to using a smart phone to learn best practices and starting to dream big, Mirju certainly has come a long way. She is currently planning to cultivate more vegetables, and use the money she earns from it to invest in buying more goats and finally go on to starting a small business.

“Everyone in my village respects and likes me, we the members of our SHG are like family we share our happiness and find comfort in our sorrows when we meet each other. My confidence and strength has grown over this time. I feel different inside. The old shy and withdrawn Mirju has changed into a new person who has friends and a strong support system,” beams a proud woman.

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