Hello Hanumantappa. I would like to talk to you about the Siddarameshwara Group at Doni. Is this a good time?
Sure thing. Now is as good a time as any other. What would you like to know?
How did the Siddarameshwara Group come about and what is its purpose?
The Siddarameshwara Group is one of sixty groups of persons with disabilities in Dambla Hobli in Gadag District.
These groups have come about as a result of the community organisation and development work undertaken by DEAL Foundation to create sustainable livelihoods for households of persons with disabilities.
Around five to seven persons with disabilities from the same village come together to form independent groups whose prime focus is to offer peer-to-peer support and raise awareness of livelihood opportunities for persons with disabilities.
The Siddarameshwara Group has five members and we are a mixed group with two women and three men. Each one of us has different interests, ideas and has different disabilities.
Each of the groups has a lead representative who is elected/nominated from among the group. And everyone takes turn to be the lead representative sooner or later.
I’m currently the lead representative for Siddarameshwara Group.
The groups are voluntary in nature and predominantly exist as its members see the merit in them being there.
Can you talk about the merit and how in particular belonging to one of these groups is helpful to persons with disabilities?
Where do you want me to begin?
Perhaps, I can start-off by saying persons with disabilities are conspicuous by their absence in the communities they live in and in society at large. Persons with disabilities find themselves socially excluded.
So when we realised that we were better off by coming together we simply just did that. Having come together we needed a purpose. We found that information, communication, and education about our individual rights and how we could take control of our own lives gave us this purpose.
Speaking about the merits we have individually:
Appreciate who we are, what we have and learn to look beyond ourselves;
Share a sense of belonging and camaraderie;
Support one another through ups and downs;
Stay connected and learn from each other;
Get seen and recognized;
Access public entitlement support;
Receive livelihood training and hand-holding support;
Receive entrepreneurship and enterprise development support;
And in short if I may say so, be respected without being labelled.
What is the Siddarameshwara Group working on?
Four of us in our group are working to build our livelihoods based on setting up of traditional stone grinding unit, dairy unit and a tailoring unit. One of our members is yet to make up her mind about what she wants to do.
What has been your experience of the group thus far?
I and all members of the Siddarameshwara Group are very pleased to have reached this point.
I’m most thankful to the staff at DEAL Foundation who have encouraged and supported us all the way. People around us cannot believe that we have started our own little enterprises and all this from nothing and nowhere.
I feel the work done by staff at DEAL Foundation is outstanding and very much the need of the hour.
It is only through the process of enablement can one realize their true potential.
Thank you very much Hanumantappa and wish you and members of Siddarameshwara Group all the very best for the future.
You are welcome. It has been great to talk to you and I hope my fellow persons with disabilities will take the courage to just venture out and not be fearful of the unknown.