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Case Study of the Day: Sahara SHG

Context: Sahara is a women’s self-help group (SHG) in Amoda village of Chhattisgarh. With support from the Leprosy Mission Trust India, Sahara SHG has worked for almost 20 years to fight leprosy stigma in the region and has helped women become self-sufficient.

What is Leprosy?

  • Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by a type of bacteria, Mycobacterium leprae.
  • The disease affects the skin and peripheral nerves. Left untreated, the disease may cause progressive and permanent disabilities.
  • Leprosy is curable with multidrug therapy (MDT).
  • Apart from the physical deformity, persons affected by leprosy also face stigmatization and discrimination.

Previous Situation

  • Earlier, the situation was so grim that discussions around health and welfare in Amoda were dominated by men and women did not even participate in meetings.
  • There was lack of awareness about Leprosy in Amoda, along with a lot of stigma against the disease and people would be afraid to share space with Leprosy patients.

Activities undertaken by the Sahara Self Help Group

  • Providing Livelihood to Women: As mushroom farming is prevalent in the region, the women began cultivation of the crop.
    • In 2021, the SHG earned Rs 19,000 in mushroom production, against an investment of Rs 4,500.
    • The combined income of SHG members’ own work and mushroom production is Rs 80,000-1 lakh a year.
  • Ban on Liquor Distilleries: There was a liquor distillery in Amoda village due to which most of the men used to consume alcohol and indulge in fights at home and outside. With the support from state authorities, the SHG was able to shut down the distillery.
  • Women’s Representation in Local Governance: Sahara SHG focused on increasing women’s representation in local governance. Women who get elected as Panch help other women get ration cards and avail housing support.

Impact of Sahara’s Work

  • People of the village are now more aware about Leprosy and understand its implications and treatments.
  • Amoda village now has more than 20 SHGs, where women have also come together to spread health awareness, learn about their rights, and participate in local governance.

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