"We thought we were destined to live a miserable life until the end."

For 26-year-old Bothumani and her family, life in the remote village of Kannapatti looked bleak.

"I struggled a lot to get through our day-to-day existence," she says. "People in this village depend on daily wage labouring work and we don’t have any land to cultivate of our own. Most of the households live in extreme poverty. Women are the most affected, having to do labouring work as well as running the home and all the household chores."

Trapped in the cycle of poverty

The struggle only worsened after drought put an end to a potential solution.

"To develop our dry land, our uncle borrowed 4 lakhs from the local moneylender. But due to the lack of rain, he could not cultivate any crops and became depressed. A few months later he died. The moneylender asked us to repay the amount immediately and would not leave us alone."

Grasping an opportunity

"During this time, Reaching the Unreached organised a leadership training programme and I attended, learning about risk management and financial fund management. After the training, I took the initiative to get a production loan and develop the dry land."

Ananthi was a member of her local self-help group, set up and supported by Reaching the Unreached. This meant she was able to apply for a loan with a very low interest rate and the protection of her village peers.

"Knowing our family problems, they gave me 50,000 rupees. I used 30,000 rupees to develop proper irrigation measures and 20,000 rupees to cultivate maize and frangipani on the land."

Reaping the benefits of investment

"During the last two years, we earned 300,000 rupees and settled 65% of the loan with the moneylender. I also used some of our profits for my children's education and food and now I have repaid the loan I received from my self-help group."

Ananthi recognises the vital role the self-help group played in enabling her to turn around her family's desperate situation.

"Their timely help has helped me to scramble out of poverty."

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