Every year, when the village fair comes around, little Appu wears a new frock, buys new toys, eats tasty chat and takes a ride on the Ferris wheel. This year, however, she has fulfilled the one wish that has eluded her thus far.
Appu never thought that the day would come when she clicks a picture with both her mother and father at the fair. That day has finally come.
Working in the city to make ends meet, Appu’s father never really had a chance to see her grow and take the family to the village fair.
Thanks to the Axis Bank Foundation, many families like Appu’s are now reunited. For the past decade, the Foundation, which is the corporate social responsibility arm of Axis Bank, has endeavoured to provide livelihood opportunities to one million people in some of India’s most underprivileged and undeveloped regions, especially in the farming sector.
The story of Appu’s father is similar to millions of wage-earning Indians, who leave their homes and migrate to cities in search of job opportunities. With financial returns from agriculture depleting every year due to shrinking landholdings, unsustainable farming practices and the vagaries of global warming, this trend is only increasing.
These migrations are often devastating for members of the family that the average wage earner leaves behind. With ABF’s intervention, however, many of them do not have to leave their villages and instead find suitable work at home.
Take the example of Yashwant Singh, a farmer from Jamuniha village in Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh. For his family’s sustenance, besides farming, he had to double up as a labourer.
Conditions are hard with a limited supply of water to irrigate the land throughout the year. Moreover, Yashwant had very few avenues to sell his produce. Five years ago, the ABF (in partnership with Self Reliant Initiatives through Joint Action (SRIJAN), a non-profit organisation) encouraged farmers like Yashwant to adopt horticulture, besides providing the necessary technological expertise – like installing a pressurised drip irrigation system and access to different markets.
With support from SRIJAN on the ground, he started to grow pomegranate trees on his farm. In addition, he also began growing other vegetables on his farm that would not only become a source of regular income but also diversify his economic opportunities.
Instead of contemplating migration to the city, Yashwant today is the proud owner of 70 pomegranate trees, and his family can live under relatively better conditions.
This was just an example, but there are hundreds more like him. The ABF-SRIJAN initiative has made its presence felt in the water-scarce areas of Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, empowering people to earn a living from the cultivation of vegetables, fruits and dairy.
As shown in the film, many children will now get a chance to to spend time with their parents. Many homes will be complete again. And many family portraits will be adorned with all smiles.
Click here to read more about Axis Bank Foundation’s impact, by creating a million sustainable livelihoods across India.