Nalini Manjhi and Chanchala Manjhi reside in a sleepy hamlet named Madey under Madhakhola Reserve Forest area of Narla block in district Kalahandi in Orissa. Their life is not the synonym of pains and pangs like other women of their locality, but now they are crusader to lead a path of self-dependence. Once upon a time, life of this remote village was entailed only scarcity, distress and indigence that constantly proved snake bite for them at every moment. Now, their situation is perfectly poles apart, as it was. Rest of women population of their neighboring villages is keen to comprehend the precise approach of such sweeping changes in their life. In other words, people pay a visit to their doorstep with assignment; Nalini, Chanchala and her brigade do not dawdle from pillar to the post for their bread and butter.
Nalini was an extrovert whereas Chanchala does not speak too much unreasonably. They used to go nearby forest to collect dried wood to sell them out in local market named Dadpur. In course of interaction with local forest officials, they came to know the method to conserve and promote greenery and bio-diversity. Sh. Sharat Chandra Nayak, the local Forester of Bhawanipatna forest range, who frequently visits these villages, is madly active to motivate the mass to expand the periphery of woods. His words riotously inspired both ladies. But life is not the bed of roses in Kalahandi. They had to reach in the forest before dawn to collect firewood and minor forest produces (MFPs) and would return in afternoon to dispose it off in the local markets of Bhawanipatna or Dadpur. So, they did not have spare time. Bitter fact of life could not be ignored. They barely used to manage resources to meet both ends. So, it was challenging to think even some ideas as second thought.
Last year, they convened some women and formed Self-Help Group (SHG). They managed to collect resources. Each member started to contribute Rs. 5/- daily and through this way they began to collect Rs. 1,500 in a month through 10 members. Ultimately they saved more than nine thousand rupees within six months. Meanwhile, local watershed chapter of District Rural Development Authority (DRDA), Kalahandi offered them seeds of bamboo, eucalyptus, teak including technical support in this respect. The Divisional Forest Department supplied them polythene bag for seed germination. The SHG leaded by Nalini and Chanchala developed a nursery without any hustle and bustle just beside a newly constructed road made under Pradhan Mantri Sadak Nirman Yojna (PMSNY). They did hard labour under blistering sun, brawled against bone chilling gales and endured heavy rains. But work could not be stopped by them.
Eventually, they raised 22,000 saplings of different species within short duration of nine months. They sold all saplings worth Rs. 38,000. This is their additional income, apart from their regular earnings. They do have seed money which will be regenerated for next time nursery expansion. Saplings raised by them, are being planted in different blocks of Kalahandi under various plantation schemes. Nalini wishes to make their work more technical but they are not educated. Fortunately, Nayak is ready to impart training to them for nod germination in sapling raising.
"This will add extra feather on their success cap next year", says Chiantan Manjhi, a villager of Madey. However, Kalahandi is a world known hinterland for its wrong reasons like aged long poverty, whirl of backwardness, evergreen drought, child mortgage or even huge number of unwed mothers due to instant relation with one night stand travelers, development agents, government officials and likes. In such circumstances, both tribal ladies have emerged as the source of brainwave for rest of belle of this district.
Since, they have faith in labor and work must appear with its outcome, they realize this fact from inner core of their heart. This is the key of their success, one must follow the same.