My name is Dhaani. I hail from the Budhgaon village of Uttarakhand, India. It’s a very small village but you will find it on the map, surrounded by forests and other villages alike.
Surprising? We, the villagers, aren’t unaware of technologies. We use tools and techniques equally in order to improve life. In fact, ever since ranger didi arrived here, things have only changed for the better.
I’ll tell you how, but first, let us start from where it started.
Like most rural areas in India, women married at a very young age in our village. Instead of education and degrees, we pursued household chores.
But in a village wherein barely 150 people lived, if only the men of the families earned, it was not enough. Even though we were never encouraged to work and earn, we did it for the family and our children.
But it didn’t help much.
For one, I sold incense sticks, juices, and cereals, and ended up earning only about 7000 a month.
We tried to sell the items to tourists, locals, and nearby villages and towns, but most of them would get rejected. Because people called them unhygienic.
Now, what did that mean? Weren’t people like us, all of us, living in unhygienic conditions? Anything we made came from the same place. How could I, or any other woman for that matter, change it?
Ranger didi was posted as a range forest officer in our village on May 1, 2020. Soon she came to know our sources of livelihood. It could be increased tenfold was what she claimed thereafter.
To us, honestly, it was as laughable as one of us winning a lottery of crores.
She said maybe not crores right away, but we could still make lakhs from our hard work. Immediately, she arranged for training for the women in our village. We learned to make organic soaps, cosmetics, incense sticks, shampoos, etc.
The products were made from medicinal plants and locally available natural ingredients. The process was hygienic and products were marketed by the forest department itself. They were sold under the brand ‘Dhatree’ that meant ‘mother’.
Today, I register a successful business worth Rs. 1 lakh, thanks to our Ranger didi.
About Medhavi Keerti
Medhavi Keerti, from a tender age, witnessed her mother bearing the responsibility of their family. If not for her mother’s hard work after her father had passed away, she couldn’t have become what she is today.
This incident only made her stronger. She knew what an empowered woman was capable of. So when she arrived in Budhgaon and watched the local women suffer endlessly, she resolved to help them.
Medhavi’s intention was to make the villages in the Bhadrigaad range self-sufficient. The slogans ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ and ‘Vocal for Local’ resounded in her ears round the clock.
Image source – Twitter
Although it was a challenge to convince all the women, she started with 25 in Budhgaon. She talked with her senior officer, Kehkashan Naseem. Together they arranged for the machines and trainers a month before Diwali.
The First Tiny Step
Cow dung was available in abundance in the village. Medhavi Keerti had noticed that already. She suggested that the women made diyas and pots from that. The products were to be organic and used as fertilizer after Diwali.
The team sold the products at the local markets, also sent them to villages across Mussourie and Dehradun. In one month, they earned Rs. 40,000. It was unbelievably huge for the women. The result made them confident and more women joined in.
Thus, ‘Dhatree’, a mother was born to the empowered women of Budhgaon.
Soon every woman in Budhgaon and nearby villages came forward to start their own small business based on organic products.
Dhatree – The Mother of Many Initiatives
Medhavi Keerti created a group of young girls to start making incense sticks. These sticks were not only organic but also helped keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay. They started with a pack of 30 sticks, which was priced at Rs. 50.
Hear her talk in this video on Facebook. Click the image to go there.
This initiative was named ‘Nandini’. Soon, Medhavi started more such noble initiatives for food processing, stitching, making aroma and cosmetic products, etc. The women have also started making plates from leaves.
Men have also joined Dhatree in order to help procure materials and other production-related activities.
All the villagers, women and men, are receiving marketing lessons to take their businesses to the next level. The forest department aims at making them self-reliant.
Source – The New Indian Express
A shop in Bandasari displaying Dhatree products.
If not for Ms. Medhavi Keerti, none of this would have even started. We salute her for having come up with this incredible idea of empowering women and changing the villagers’ lives.
May you bring more changes to the needy, Medhavi! We wish you good luck.
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