BPL women SHG takes initiative for improving healthcare

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Baripada (Mayurbhanj), Apr 12 (UNI) In the perfect example of women empowerment, a group of women belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in a remote village in Orissa, have led the way in providing sustainable healthcare service to women at minimum cost.

A team of journalists from Bihar, who recently visited the small 'workshop' of the ''Ma Mangala Self-Help Group'' at Budhikhamari village, about 35 km from here, found that the group, comprising 13 unassuming housewives, had indeed become a trendsetter towards providing sustainable healthcare service for the fair sex at an affordable price.

The group, led by one Puspabala Panda, mother of two children, with 12 other members, coming either from the same Budhikhamari village or from neighbouring localities, spend at least eight hours every day for manufacturing 120 packets of ten sanitary napkins, each under the popular brand name of 'Feel Free' at a cost of only Rs 12.

''This has not only helped each of us earn about Rs 1500 per month, but has also given us the freedom of becoming economically independent within our family and thereby commanding respect,'' Mrs Panda said, echoing similar sentiments of all the 12 other members of the group.

Stating that the 'Ma Mangala SHG', comprising 13 like-minded members, was formed last year after the idea of manufacturing sanitary napkins at cheaper cost for the local womenfolk was floated by a local NGO during a meeting, Mrs Panda and Ma Mangala treasurer Sumita Mahakanda said.

''After forming the group, we approached the local public sector bank and got a credit of Rs two lakh, 50 per cent of which came as grant from the Union Rural Development Ministry,'' Mrs Panda informed.

''During the period of formation, we also took intitiative to undergo a formal training in the district headquarters for manufacturing the products in our small workshop and got the necessary equipment from the state government under its SHG programmes,'' they said.

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