Deal Foundation staff and volunteers undertook a campaign to identify and reach 3,000 mentally challenged individuals and 1,000 women members across the Gadag district of North Karnataka by March 2023. Within this initiative, the Sustainable Livelihoods Program aimed to promote disability awareness and community sensitization, fostering acceptance and inclusion of individuals with disabilities at both individual and community levels. Unfortunately, due to a lack of awareness and acceptance, disability remains a persistent problem.

To address this issue, the staff of the Deal Foundation organized effective disability awareness and community sensitization activities, including the formation of groups to meet the needs of both disabled individuals and women. The Deal Foundation aims to create a self-help society for people with physical challenges and women, assisting them in leading self-reliant lives.

Similarly, Veena Shakhanavara, the Livelihood Officer at Deal Foundation for the Handicapped & Women in Betageri village of Gadag taluk, provided information about the working practices of the Deal Foundation. Subsequently, women and mothers of children with disabilities formed a women’s self-help group comprising 10 members and named it “Ujwala women Self-Help Sangh.” They opened a bank account and received training in book writing, disability awareness, and job skills through this association. Following the training, during discussions about their preferred occupations, the members expressed interest in activities such as tailoring and continuing weaving jobs.

Six months after the formation of this self-help association, they got a bank loan of 50,000 for this association and they are doing weaving and tailoring. Aruna Sarangi, a member of the association, is doing weaving. This weaving was done by his parents with two looms. He started working with his parents. Gradually, he came to the point of running this weaving machine himself. Then he went on borrowing one machine after another. Later, with the cooperation of Deal Foundation, he got a bank loan and bought a spinning machine for weaving. Earlier, he used to spin yarn by hand due to which his health deteriorated.

Similarly, Aruna Sarangi operates a total of eight looms, including two looms provided by the government, with the support of her family. Two silk sarees are produced on this machine each day. Due to the high price of these sarees, they are sold in other cities. Women also come to work at her house, and a total of 12 people are involved in this weaving job. This initiative forms the foundation of many women’s lives.

Shivukumar Shirol, the Training Coordinator of Deal Foundation, also visited the association and observed their weaving work. Subsequently, Muhammad Aroor from Sidbi, Sagar Virapannavar from Deal Foundation, Nick Edward, and Azaz Rashid from CSR inspected the association and engaged in discussions about the weaving industry. They inquired whether the association had received all the necessary information from the Deal Foundation. They also conversed with the members who had obtained loans, asking about the nature of their work after securing the bank loan and whether it proved beneficial for them. The members posed various questions about the sarees produced, inquiring about the manufacturing process, the source of materials, and the time required to make a saree. Mohammad Aroor and Azaz Rasheed both observed the weaving work, expressed their appreciation, and extended their best wishes to all the members.

Thus, the members of this association can be considered an embodiment of the saying that if a woman sets her mind to it, she can conquer the whole world. This Self-Help Society serves as a model for similar societies in Gadag Taluk. Additionally, the Deal Foundation has provided significant support to their efforts. The Deal Foundation stands in solidarity with many other disabled individuals and women.

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