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Rani raises up her community
Saving Joel's life
Rani drops the dark yellow pieces of turmeric root into the grinding machine. The small production room quickly fills with a curry-like aroma. On a shelf nearby, small bags of ground turmeric, cumin and coriander are stacked with the other spices used in traditional Indian cooking. From behind the bright yellow veil protecting her face, Rani revels in her role as lead manager.
Rani first approached SOS Children’s Villages two years ago as a struggling mother of three, hoping to expand her small sewing business so she could afford to send her children to school. The SOS family strengthening program in Tilak Nagar, on the outskirts of Delhi, India, provided access to a loan—and Rani increased her monthly income by more than 900%.
Rani soon realized there was more need in her community, so she banded together with 11 other women to start a spice operation. As the lead manager, she oversees training and work assignments, from grinding and packaging to marketing and selling.
Thanks to the seed money, guidance, and financial services that SOS family strengthening programs provide, not only do aspiring entrepreneurs like Rani start their own businesses and support their families, they also innovate new ways to lift up others around them.
New projects like the spice cooperative are vetted before being funded, and support groups act as startup incubators where projects are evaluated and tested.
Niharika Chamola, the Assistant Village Director in Tilak Nagar, explains, “We have a special objective of empowering women. If the mother is empowered, she can bring up the children and support the family in a much better way… Then the whole family is empowered, and the whole society is empowered.”
Having experienced these positive effects firsthand, Rani hopes to help the other women in the spice business lift themselves out of poverty. She adds, “Like our parents, we are living in poverty. We want our children to have better chances in life, to be better educated.”
Pain and loss were all that Joel* knew in his young life. With his mother dead and his father gone, he lived with his grandmother in a tiny home just outside Yamoussoukro, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire.
She tried to care for him, but she was very poor. Joel often went hungry. He slept on the floor, lived without electricity, and got dripped on every time it rained. Even as a toddler, Joel could tell his grandmother was sick. “I was afraid she was going to die, leaving me alone.”
Joel tried to help. He gathered firewood in his 4-year-old arms and helped prepare the small meals they shared.
In 2014, Joel got a new start in life when he was brought to the SOS village in in Yamoussoukro. His SOS mother described his first days at the village: “Joel was really happy when he arrived at the village. He hadn’t ever seen such a beautiful place before. He was so excited to know that he was getting a real home, a bedroom with a comfortable bed…”
Amazed at how clean everything was, Joel was astonished he could wash up at any time with readily available water. Most importantly, Joel said, “I am sure I will always have enough food. I’m not afraid anymore.”
Joel is older now and has been doing very well in school. His favorite subject is French, because he loves to learn new words. When he grows up, he wants to become a teacher.