Ten miles is a short distance for most of us, but for some women and children in rural India it means isolation from the rest of the world and probably during all their lives.

When I visited Parandih village in the District of Deoghar, Jarkhand, with Kiva Field Partner MicroGraam and their partnering NGO MESP, we were a big group caching the attention of many villagers. Being the only non Indian, for most kids I was probably the first foreigner they’ve ever seen.

This rural village of a hundred homes, like many in India, is not all that far from the main district town, 10 miles away. Roads (paved and unpaved) are there, but there is no public transportation. Grid is there, but there is no electricity. Banks are not far, but no one takes 50 cents deposits - all that villagers can afford to save. Water hand pumps are there, but the water it is not potable. Schools are there, but teachers do not show up. No sanitation, no health care.

These minority communities live a simple life. They do not know a better life. Men might travel to nearby towns looking for work in construction, factories or agricultural fields, and sell or buy products, but most women, with no means of transportation, and unbearable heat, do not go any further than the next village, usually a replica of the one they live in.

With no land suitable for agriculture, many people migrate looking for work and end up living in slums and by railway stations. Were they better off in the village? With the Self Help Groups (SHG) movement that started a few years back and the support of amazing NGOs like MESP, there is hope for a clear YES.

MESP helps these rural communities of marginal households by promoting livelihood, like dairy, rearing goats, and poultry, as well as micro-enterprises like tailoring or all kinds of small shops, preventing rural exodus to another type of a miserable life in an urban area.

By lending through MicroGraam and its partners like MESP, any distance will be no distance, and 10 miles will no longer mean isolation but opportunity.

Family from Parandih at their door’s house

Self Help Group (SHG) meeting surrounded by curiousness

Twice a week the market of Parandih gathers in front of the school

MicroGraam’s Kiva Coordinator training MESP field officers

MESP General Director Niladri Sekhor (7th from left) and staff with MicroGraam CEO Ragan Varadan and COO Krisnhamurthy (8th and 9th from left)

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