Fundraising Appeal: CRUSADE’s ‘Elderly Women’s Group’

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Dear friends and members of the Action Village India community,

We are sharing with you a request for your solidarity for long term partner CRUSADE’s support for elderly women’s groups in Tiruvallur district, Tamil Nadu.

We are sharing an update from CRUSADE followed by some reflections from Andy Rutherford, the current Chair of Action Village India, who spent time with CRUSADE this October.

We are hoping to raise a solidarity contribution of £2,000 for this inspiring work and hope that you could consider being part of it.

Many thanks and warmest seasonal wishes.

Action Village India

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Care and support to Elderly Women Groups’

CRUSADE has been forming Women Self Help Groups (WSHGs) since the early 1990s and many women in the groups have now attained ‘pension status’ and therefore are not able to continue in the groups.  This is because now they cannot save money regularly, pay subscriptions and apply for loans as they have no sources of income to repay loans. They also do not have good access to medical care and other essential services.

The elderly women are more vulnerable due to age related health issues and loneliness problems, mobility issues and financial insecurity. Although many of these women live with their families, they are often neglected, when they would benefit from companionship as well as support for their “small and vital needs”.

Tamil Nadu has the highest number of ‘single woman’ households in India. Data released by the Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India reveals that about 811,000 women in Tamil Nadu are living alone which means that 4.39% of total 18.4 million households of the state are single woman households. These women could be divorcees, widows or spinsters. Not all women in these households live alone by choice, but often due to various reasons such as being survivors of desertion, domestic violence or dowry issues.

The purpose and extent of CRUSADE’s support

CRUSADE has been forming elderly women groups’, giving space for them to share their joys and problems and to provide medical care and counselling. They are given nutritional packs during monthly meetings and blankets during winter. They have been taken on recreation tours to Chennai to visit the beach, memorials and temples. Some of them have visited Mahabalipuram, a sea side historical tourist centre with a beach and famous temple sculptures.

CRUSADE has so far formed 25 Groups enrolling 426 elderly women. The groups are visited by health professionals every three months to provide medical care and diagnostic services. Recently around 40 elderly women had a much appreciated and talked about visit to Mahabalipuram,

Specific activities and impact

During the last six months (April – September 2023), 8 geriatric camps were conducted, exclusively for the Elderly Women’s Groups, providing homeopathy treatment by a qualified homeopath to 120 women for their minor health problems. All the women in the groups are supplied with Camphor oil which is found to be very effective in relieving joint pain which is a common age related health issue.

In the camps, 108 of them were screened for hypertension and 34 women, having symptoms, were screened for blood sugar levels. Six women had high blood pressure and another six women with diabetes were given advice and medicines. Eligible women who are yet to get their Old Age Pension from the state of Rs 1200/month (£12) have been identified, encouraged and supported to apply for their pension. CRUSADE has played a key role for several women, enabling them to get this crucial support, which is their right, from the state.

Our Chair or trustees, Andy Rutherford, spent time with two CRUSADE older women’s groups in Natham in Sholavaram block, as well as in Kaniambakkam in Minjur block, both in Tiruvallur district, Tamil Nadu in October 2023.  He came away inspired and very respectful of the CRUSADE team, their ways of working and what they have achieved and are achieving. “There is a gentleness and respect for the women, men and children in the communities that they are working in that is at the heart of their success.”

Meeting the elderly women’s groups who despite the challenging circumstances that they were living in, shared what they were doing to improve their lives and livelihoods with dignity and confidence. The women who attend the meetings always seemed very happy being in the groups, sharing their joys and their problems. There were clearly relationships of mutual trust between the community members and the CRUSADE community level organisers.

We hope that you will consider sharing some solidarity support to the elderly women that CRUDADE is working with in such positive and empowering ways.  If you would like to be part of this support, please could you consider donating to our £2000 campaign goal.

Thank you,

Action Village India

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