Saturday, 5 September 2015

Growing Mushrooms, Growing Oneself

At the beginning of June, we began our first microfinance project: three women attended a mushroom cultivation training course.

Shushma, Sarita and Pushpa learnt how to grow oyster mushrooms in their homes from a two-day workshop, facilitated by EduCare India interns and taught by Dr. Deepika from Kangra University. The first day was dedicated to lectures in the office and the second was practical training on how to prepare the bags of straw and spawn, which later grew into mushrooms. 

Several women learning now to cultivate mushrooms in Rait

By the end of the training, the women went home with one bag each which they are able to keep for three months. A few days later they made four additional bags each all by themselves.

When we first began working in Rait, we engaged several women interested in starting various microfinance businesses with us. We chose to start with mushroom farming because Shushma took initiative and showed a genuine desire in getting a business started.

The women preparing the mushrooms and the straw 

She came to us and continued to do so because she felt it was taking too long to organise the mushroom training. On day two of the course, Shushma was the first person to arrive at the intern house to get started. She was there at seven in the morning and had begun preparing the straw for the practical training. When the women planned to meet at the intern house two days after the course, Shushma was the first one there to make arrangements for the preparation of the women’s other bags. One month later and Shushma still hasn’t given up. She didn’t give up when her mushrooms took longer to grow or because one bag became sick– Shushma has persisted and persevered throughout this process.

Women like Shushma have the will to do something and are proactive. She is a mother of two and uses various innovative means to generate another income for her household. Shushma’s example shows us that some women are already empowering themselves, and sometimes, they just need a bit of help, or a nudge of some sort, to be able to do something big.

Emma Vayssade - France 
Microfinance project manager, Rait (Himachal Pradesh)

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