Parvathi Shows the Way

Parvathi Shows the Way

Publication info

CARE India

Sunkari Parvathi lives in Swarna Bharathi Nagar, a large slum on the outskirts of Guntur town in India. She became a widow in 2002 when her husband died due to AIDS. Then, she found out she too was living with the disease – but was grateful when Srilakshmi, Nagaraju and Narasmhan, who study in the seventh, sixth and fourth grade, tested negative.

Following her husband’s demise, Parvathi began selling fruits and other eatables, which she carried in a basket on her head at the nearby school and on the town streets. She brought in only a meager amount – little to meet even the most basic needs of her family.

With sadness in her eyes she recalls, “Despite all my efforts, there were times when I was unable to provide two square meals a day for my children and myself.”

Soon, Parvathi heard about CARE’s Balasahyoga project, which reaches out to families affected by HIV and AIDS, and helps them overcome significant economic challenges.

Through Balasahyoga, a village savings and loan program, Parvathi started to set aside a tiny amount of her earnings to invest in her and her family’s future. When she had enough savings, Parvathi combined her savings with a small loan from Balasahyaga to buy a pushing cart for her business.

This cart, being much larger than the basket, allowed her to vend a wider variety and amount of eatables as well as roam greater distances. The cart also reduced Parvathi’s manual drudgery as she no longer had to carry a heavy basket on her head.

By doing business from the mobile cart, Parvathi’s income substatially increased. She paid back the amount provided by the Balasahyoga project in installments, which enables other HIV-affected families to take out a loan.

But Parvathi doesn’t solely depend on her income to help her provide for her children’s nutritional needs. With CARE’s guidance, Parvathi planted a kitchen garden in front of her one-room house. CARE taught her how to use worm composting to get the most out of her kitchen waste and her garden. Today, the once barren plot is bursting with brinjals, tomatoes, lady fingers, spinach, amaranthus and gourds.

“Earlier, each week, I had to spend to Rs. 40 to purchase vegetables from the market, which would get spoiled easily as I could rarely afford the best quality vegetables,” Parvanthi says. “Now, I hardly purchase vegetables from the market but, every day, my children get vegetables in their meals.”

Balasahyoga interventions have brought a tangible change in Parvathi’s life, and she expresses her gratitude to CARE. “It is heartening to see that my children have something more than just plain rice.”