The Hope Project: Your loan can help ex-devadasi women to start a new life

Today, I’m not blogging only for myself. I’m blogging for a cause. Did you know that the age old Devadasi practice is still prevalent in many parts of rural India? The Milaap Hope Project is an initiative to help ex-devadasi women to step up and embrace progress. Through this campaign, they are inviting small loans for the micro enterprises of these women, so that they can set up small businesses and escape from their cycle of hopelessness.

What is the Devadasi system

A lot of you might know already, the Devadasi system refers to the practice of marrying a young girl to the Devi (Goddess) of a temple. This ‘marriage’ also means that she can never marry a man. This happens when the girl is only 5 or 6 years old. It takes place for several reasons. For one, if a couple’s first child is a girl, they offer her to the temple hoping to please the goddess and have a boy child the next time. Or if they have many daughters, giving one to the temple means they wouldn’t have to find a groom for her and they would save on dowry. Also, she would stay nearby and care for them as they grow older.

Girls as little as 5 or 6 years old are forced to be ‘devdasis’ in rural India

The worst part in this entire practice is that a lot of them gets forced into prostitution. Over the years, this system has been abused by the rich and the powerful who have forced the young devadasis to sleep with them. Laws have been put in place where both the devadasis as well as the perpetrators of the system can be punished. But, in many small cities and towns across India, this practice still continues surreptitiously.

The story of  three ex-devadasi women who fought against all odds..

Today, I’ll tell you the story of Yallavva Shinge who has been a victim of this terrible practice. Yallavva is a single mother of two small children, hailing from the Athani village of Belgaum, Karnataka. Very early in her life, she was pushed into the oppressive devadasi system, because of which she remained deprived of any education and social status throughout her life. But because of the well being of her little ones, this feisty woman has successfully managed to recover from it, and has even started a beauty parlor to generate income. The demand for beauty parlors in her region has encouraged her to choose this line of business.

Yallavva Shinge in her small beauty parlor

She has now decided to expand the parlor for increasing her income. Joining the brave Yallava are two other women – Suvarna and Surekha, both survivors of the same system. Suvarna plans to grow her buffalo rearing business, whereas Surekha wishes to invest in an auto so that her son can drive it and earn additional income.

Why I want to help Yellavva and group

The story of Yellavva has touched my heart and I would really like to help her in whatever way I can. Hence, this blog post today. These brave women have already come a long way. One of the major challenges the ex-devdasis face is that the projected image spoils their chances at employment and the stigma associated with it. The government does help them, but there is still a long way to go, to eradicate this system from the root.

I want to help them because establishing them in their respective small businesses of their own will help them greatly. It will reduce their dependency on anyone else for employment opportunities. Also, this might help their children get an education and they will not be forced to get into the same cruel system. These women had to lose their childhood and innocence, but let their children not lose it too. The cycle needs to break.

What made me find Yallavva’s story different than the others is the fact that she decided to start a beauty parlor, and now plans to expand it. She wants to make other women look beautiful and spread more smiles. Despite so many hurdles she has faced in life, I want to bow down to her for not giving up!

How can you make a difference

Yallavva, Surekha and Suvarna, are now jointly seeking a loan of Rs 60,000 towards the objective of expanding their small businesses. This loan will be a significant step in their quest for a more respectable tomorrow for themselves and their children. This is where you can click and contribute: http://milaap.org/fund/yallavva-shinge-and-group/2023?&referrer_id=9089

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Lend some money to Yellavva Shinge and group today

In a society where devadasi women are treated no less than prostitutes, it has taken a lot of courage and grit for these three women to have come this far and do something of their own. All they need now is your encouragement and a little push towards their goal. I’m requesting you for a little loan. Yes, I write this to ask you to lend a little of your hard-earned money for a noble cause. This money of yours can help Yallavva expand her little parlor, Suvarna grow her buffalo rearing business and Surekha buy an auto rickshaw.

How does it work

You can help empower Yallavva and group by lending money so that they can start their business and lead a respectable life. Let me make it clear to you here that this is a NOT a donation or charity. This is a loan and every rupee/dollar will be repaid to you, by these three entrepreneurs once the need of the borrower is met. The repayment term is of 18 months and the repayment period is from 01 April 2014 to 01 October 2015, and it will be paid back in monthly installments to your Milaap account. Subsequently you will have the choice of either re-lending your money to some other needy borrower or withdrawing the amount from your Milaap account.

The Loan cycle on Milaap is a simple four-step process:

Step 1:  You lend money to Yellavva and group.

Step 2: You make a loan online. Borrowers receive 100% of your money and use it for the specific need they were given the loan for.

Step 3: As the borrower repays the loan, the Field partner collects the repayments on the ground. These are accumulated in your account on Milaap.org, as ‘Credits’.

Step 4: You can choose to withdraw your accumulated Milaap Credits or re-lend it to another borrower listed on Milaap.

The possibility of self-reliance through entrepreneurship is a ray of fierce hope for Yallavva, Suvarna and Surekha. Click here in order to lend some money and make a difference in their life in a big way. Your little help can go a long way in helping these people lead a better and dignified life. Please contribute whatever you can and do your good deed of the day. The payment can be made through Debit/Credit cards and Net Banking, and it can be made in Indian rupees or US dollars.

The more funds that can be generated, the better. So please, rather than paying for an overpriced tub of popcorn at the movie theater or dining out at an expensive restaurant, use that money for a greater cause today. Thanks from the bottom of my heart!

This blog post was written for the Hope Project undertaken by Milaap on IndiBlogger.

Latest update: Okay, so here’s the latest news that I got today. Out of the INR 60,000 that was needed, I managed to raise INR 22,075 for Yellava. Woot. This feels so great. Just want to thank everyone who helped in spreading the word and contributed generously for this good cause. You guys are such rockstars!

PS: Milaap will soon take me for a field trip to the Athani village of Belgaum, Karnataka to meet Yellava personally and see the situation around. I can’t wait to see her! God bless you all. 🙂

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