October 2, 2013

Inspiration for the day

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T.K.Omana, RASTA, Kambalakkad, Wayanad

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For T.K.Omana, the daughter of a farmer from Pathanamthitta who used to help her parents in farming, understanding the agonies of others was a natural sensibility.  Thus after 10th standard, when she went to Rajasthan to be with her sister who was a nurse there, she could easily relate to the villagers of Tiloniya, with whom she fated to interact.

More than 30 years ago, the villages of Rajasthan were backward in the extreme.  Two important things happened to Omana in Tiloniya.  One, she involved herself in the social upliftment of the villagers through Bunker Roy and Aruna Roy’s Social Worker Research Centre.  Two, she got married to Dhanesh Kumar, an engineering graduate who was more inclined to social engineering than technological engineering.

Based on Roy’s advice, the couple decided to focus their efforts in Kerala itself.  Roy had assured them that there were villages worse than Tiloniya in Kerala.  So there was no surprise when they landed in Kaniyampatta, near Mananthavady in Wayanad District.  Even today, 30 years later, human beings wilt of hunger and malnutrition in the adivasi hamlets of Attappadi.  So it was no surprise that they were greeted by ‘human-shaped beings in the midst of animals’ of Wayanad.

Omana and Dhanesh started RASTA (Rural Agency for Social and Technological Advancement).  RASTA started its mission by bringing the light of knowledge to the children.  From the beginning she was mindful that upliftment of the family would happen only through empowerment of women.

Therefore they formulated the self-help groups, which generated self-employment and self-income.  To let the women keep the money safe from the reach of alcoholic husbands, they started grassroot bank also.

Thus long before Kudumbasree was formed, RASTA was able to organize more than 3000 self-help groups with atleast 10 members.  When Kudumbasree was started by the Government, these groups were merged into it.

Even today RASTA is a guide for the people of Kambalakkad.  Dhanesh is a consultant for NABARD.  They have two daughters, Jithva and Swathi.

Omana was a recent recipient of the Women Empowerment award given by Central Government.


Courtesy: V.R.Jyothish (text), Badusha (photo), Vanitha, August 1-14, 2013

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."