Scripting on the Wall  
Chandrakala’s husband was electrocuted. Her brother-in-law, the sole bread-winner in the family, committed suicide. The events were enough to shatter her. Instead, Chandrakala scripted a success story — one which most women in the tiny village of Bewal are trying to emulate.
As president of a self-help group (SHG), Baba Anantpuri, Chandrakala, in her individual capacity, has manufactured and sold vermi-compost worth Rs 60,000 in one year. Her SHG, on the whole, has sold vermi-compost worth Rs 1.27 lakh within 15 months.
The SHG, comprising 20 women, is part of 33 such groups which have been constituted in select villages of Jatusana division under the Haryana Community Forestry Project (HCFP). ‘‘This project has not only made us financially independent but has also given us the confidence to do things on our own,’’ Chandrakala says.
This is how it all happened. ‘‘As part of the project, our SHG was provided training to make vermi-compost. We were given a grant of Rs 2,500 by the Forest Department to buy earthworms and start making compost,’’ Chandrakala says. Since then, her group has sold 200 quintals of vermi-compost to clients ranging from the Forest Department to zamindars. ‘‘Last year, the sale of worms itself fetched Rs 24,000,’’ she says. As far as leftover is concerned, she says, “We can use it in our fields as it would greatly cut our costs for buying urea.’’
Chandrakala is not alone. Ask Santosh from the same village and she will tell you how her SHG, Bawalia, started making soap on a small scale and earned handsome rewards. Or meet Vinod Devi, who leads a SHG called Mukteshwari, in village Bhurthala. ‘‘We identified duree-galicha-making as our income-generating activity and can already see the difference it has made to our lives,’’ she says. ‘‘As a result of this project, a feeling of cooperation has emerged,’’ says Ranjit Singh of Bewal. ‘‘Now, cutting across caste and gender, everybody participates in the decision-making process,’’ he adds.
The Haryana Community Forestry Project is being implemented in 49 villages of Mahendergarh and Rewari of Jatusana division. Drawing financial assistance from the European Union, the project aims to encourage community participation for increasing tree cover. Around 1,980 hectares of panchayat land, sand dunes and farm land have been afforested since 1999-2000.
‘‘Village Resource Management Committees (VRMCs) have been constituted in each project village and villagers trained in various aspects of management of plantations, including record-keeping and accounts,’’ says Sardar Singh, director of Rewai-based Society for Rural Economy and Technology Advancement (SRETA). SRETA has even arranged for a computer for Bewal where Chandrakala conducts literacy classes
With its focus area being afforestation, the project has seen the establishment of 320 tree groves in villages. Also, an area of 640 hectares has seen multi-species Farm Forestry while another 335 hectares has seen plantation for modified sand-dune fixation.
  Copyright@ 2009 India Women Welfare Foundations