On 28 December 2008, 52 rehabilitated kalandar families took firm steps forward to create richer and better lives for themselves. It was a very promising day for wildlife conservation in India as the entire Kalandar community in Naya Basera, Bhopal renewed their pledge to empower themselves with help and support from Wildlife SOS.
With support from the local political leaders, MLA Sri Umashankar Gupta, Parishad Anil Agarwal, Mr Azimuddeen, President of the Kalandar Samaj, Raja Miya, Secretary Kalandar Samaj and the media, Wildlife SOS hosted a ceremony for 52 Kalandar families of Naya Basera, Bhopal to provide them seed funds and development packages so that the community as a whole can grow and pursue their alternative and sustainable livelihoods and not just a handful of families that owned bears in the past.
The local Leader of the ruling party (MLA) Sri Umashankar Gupta inaugurated the function in the presence of the other dignitaries and a large turnout of Kalandars and their families, along with Prerna Sharma (Community Development Manager for Wildlife SOS) who organized the function.
The Kalandar families received rehabilitation packages from Wildlife SOS based on the applications submitted by them and on their individual entrepreneurship skills. The popular alternative livelihood schemes chosen by the â€¨Kalandar people are:
. Vegetable trading shops / vending from pushcarts 14 Families
. Cloth trading shops / selling from pushcarts 6 Families
. Crockery shops / vending from pushcarts 14 Families
. Cycle and steel utensils for sale 1 Family
. Bangle shops 2 Families
. Incense, Aggarbatti & perfume making 2 Families
. Cycles and toys for sale 2 Families
. Electrical shop 1 Family
. DVD rental 1 Family
. Donga(bowls) making cottage industry 1 Family
. Autorickshaw Loan 1 family
. Free Range Poultry farming for eggs 3 families
. Grocery cum confectionary shops 3 families
. Pushcart with plastic goods 1 family
Work has started in a large training unit for tailoring and embroidery work (called ara-tari) which will provide training to women of the community and equip them for second income generation in their respective families. 30 young girls / women have already enrolled for the first six month programme. Wildlife SOS had given 26 girls training in embroidery and tailoring two years ago, and given the six best students tailoring machines to help them earn a little for their families. This time a larger venture for training has been started.
Sri Umashankar Gupta (MLA) who inaugurated the function said “It is a remarkable achievement and a great help for these people to start independent businesses and develop the skills necessary to deal with market economies. Wildlife SOS is there to facilitate, advise and help as these families make their new way of life.”â€¨â€¨He also added that Wildlife SOS had done outstanding work by helping these people initially in 2006 when 15 dancing bears were re-housed in the Van Vihar National park, with the bear rehabilitation package of rupees 65,000 for each family- and are also now helping them to come forward with more skills development and ventures to increase their incomes. Several widows and elderly men and women have received additional assistance to be second family earners.
â€¨â€¨â€œThe Kalandar community needs education and healthcare and we need to work hard to guide and support them to make them stand on their own feet by creating the right opportunities for them to become self sustaining;â€ says Geeta Seshamani (co-founder Wildlife SOS).”We are providing the materials required for earning a handsome income according to their needs; we will be guiding them to make this achievement more sustainable and are also planning to set up some Small Scale Industry workshops for the Kalandar community within the village for providing more employment,â€ said Prerna Sharma, Development Manager Wildlife SOS. “The success of our programme depends also on the hard work and honest endeavours of the kalandars to commit themselves to these alternate ways of earning a living.”