Friday, October 29, 2010

Nagpur Region...the plight of widows of farmers

Our little team of three flew from Chennai way up into the center (middle) of India to a city of 2.8 million people. Nagpur, like so many cities in India, has things that make it unique. Nagpur is well known for producing oranges. It's the florida of India!!

We went to Nagpur to scout out potential sites for the jewelry making project and while there investigated this possibility with our contacts there.

We connected with an organization there that reaches out to widows of farmers in one city nearby. In the last 7 years, in one area, approximately 5,000 farmers have committed suicide, leaving behind widows and children. In the last several years this incredible organization, Friend of the Poor, has helped around 2,000 widows with supplies they need to survive.

I wanted to know why these farmers are killing themselves. The time in Nagpur opened my eyes to the serious oppression the farmers face. The prices of seeds is incredibly high, there has been a drought for many years, and they can't make enough money from their crops to survive, so they commit suicide rather than face the situation.

In this culture a widow is almost shunned by her family and community. She almost never gets remarried, she's excluded from social functions, and is in a very vulnerable place which leaves her open to be sexually abused and other atrocities. It's as if when her husband died, it was a bad omen, so people avoid her.

Our time in Nagpur was very productive. As far as the jewelry project, we want to look at all the options before we make a decisions, so it's off to Pune for some more meetings!

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