Ideation of Surwahi Social Ecoestate Kanha from Day 1 has been on lines of impacting the local community around Kanha National Park positively. We are trying hard to execute on tough traits of empowering the native residents in each minute step of our journey of building Surwahi Social ground up since Jan 2016. The tenets of skilling locals, employing locals, challenging locals with today’s problems, learning from locals and collaborating with locals is something which excites us brick by brick as our dream project on sustainability, wellness, conservation and community takes shape.
As a first step to participate in the local problem solutioning with our humble Surwahi village community we initiated the formation of an informal group of women in 2017 starting with 6 members. At its launch, it was informally called Surwahi Women Self Help Group (SHG) lead by our local manager Narendra from Sarekha with his wife Parmeshwari being a key driving member. The foremost challenge was to register the group with local village panchayat of Surwahi Kharlanji area. Panchayat affiliation helps in multiple far-reaching benefits formally recognizing as a local member working group. Parallelly we got affiliation from another larger block-level SHG called Nari Shakti Samuh operating at Paraswada block level. Nari Shakti Swayam Sahayata Samuh i.e SHG in Hindi folks met our founding ladies checking our firm commitment and resolve to build a strong community, dialogue and resolve to attempt local issues at the core.
This paced up the approval from Panchayat along with bringing organizational reforms in the Samuh like electing a Head of Deetya Jagriti Mahila Swayam Sahayata Samuh or Deetya Jagriti Women Self Help Group and its Secretary. This also set the pace of fixing a monthly meeting on 5th with attendance besides Adhoc meetups.
Post Panchayat affiliation quickly moving with expert vision of our initial members and operations know-how support from Paraswada Nari Shakti Samuh we enrolled for a bank account at the local cooperative bank at Baihar. Bank account helps tremendously in transparent bookkeeping or fund flows opening opportunities for formal credit assistance. Post that in last 2 years Deetya Jagriti Mahila Samuh has become a strong 16 member community meeting every month. One of the most successful outcomes of this SHG has been its disciplined monthly collection of a minimum amount from members creating an emergency corpus. Corpus is being used for lending at bare minimum interest rates internally to needful members for their family emergencies like medical expenses.
Deetya Jagriti Women Self Help Group has tried to explore and continues to work on multiple opportunities to open a micro agri enterprises like Millet production / Papad or Pickle production / Plant-based plates or bowls, sports training for community kids, collaboration with other NGO’s and Forest department operating in Kanha Tiger Reserve area etc boosting on local skills and market needs. Parallel it has been at the forefront of bringing social awareness on government schemes and initiatives like Swachh Bharat, Organic (Jaivik) Farming, Solar Power & Pump distribution schemes by state & central government etc. This habitat of Tiger, Baigas and Gonds offers limitless opportunities to solve common rooted problems which require perseverance and above all a vision for making wildlife tourism more inclusive and caring to the local community who have been residing in these jungles for centuries but a majority still haven’t experienced a Jeep Safari at KNP.