As the Covid pandemic threw life off kilter across the globe, millions of people suffered the effects. In these times, we at Wildlife SOS, have done our best to ensure that both the animals & communities under our care do not suffer from the ravages of disease or unemployment. During the pandemic, our ‘Livelihood Support Program’ was amped up to include financial assistance and funding to Kalandar families in dire need of support during these trying times.
Apart from regular funding, Rakhee Sharma – Manager – Community Livelihoods and Women Empowerment at Wildlife SOS who has done spellbinding work for the Kalandar community – has also been conducting regular skill development workshops for the women of the community in Chaksu and Talera in Rajasthan. Ever since the lockdown has stripped earners of their jobs and businesses, other family members have been stepping up to fill the void created by the loss of a livelihood. Along with this, our ’Livelihood Support Program’ also plays a great role in ensuring that the community members have respectable avenues of earning their keep.
The latest skill-development workshop conducted by Wildlife SOS in Rajasthan focused on the production and marketing of ‘Phenyl’, a popular cleaning product used for household/industrial purposes. With each batch consisting of 20-30 people, much emphasis was paid on how to make the product, usage, variety and quality amidst other things. A stitching centre in the village was converted for the use of the workshop. A small unit was also trained in cleaning, packaging & bottling the product, while also being trained in how to source the ingredients.
In individual sessions, people were taken on a step-by-step explanation of the do’s & don’ts of making Phenyl. From sourcing the ingredients to bottling the product, every step is undertaken by a member of the skill-development workshop. Special emphasis is paid on the cautionary measures to keep in mind during the preparation and sale of Phenyl. With appropriate measures of caution, using masks and social distancing, the workshops became a regular haunt for those who wished to learn a new skill.
However, we didn’t just stop there! Once the program started achieving a small degree of success, we approached local hospitals, hotels and shops in an effort to market the homemade Phenyl. Even now, the people involved in the training programs are being taught the many ways of marketing the product. The teams are shuffled according to the day’s targets – one team manufactures the product while another pitches the sale, and vice versa. The program has been turned into a successful example of a self-help group.
As the unit is still in its nascent stages, we are focusing more on stabilising production; once a comfortable routine is adopted, a module of revenue generation, which is currently in the works, will be established to enable the community to adopt the occupation. Currently the profits gained from the sale of the cleaner are evenly distributed amidst the manufacturing team, however, we hope that this dividend will continue to grow with the successful running of the program.