Watch our video The Palliars about indigenous forest dwellers and read the stories of some of the people we work with:

Women’s rights and equality – Indurani

A few years ago I took out a loan to buy goats, but the goats died and I lost a lot of money. It was a stressful time. My husband was often angry and he beat me. We didn’t eat enough and struggled to pay for medical care when the children were ill.

I decided to join a women’s self help group and borrowed a loan to start a scrap metal business. My husband went to gender training and attended counselling. Now we are better off, the family is much happier and my husband doesn’t beat me any more.

The business is expanding and we earn Rs 3,000 a month – the children are all in school and we have enough food and clothes. We even provide employment for 7 other people who collect scrap. I couldn’t have done this without the help and support from VST and its partners.

I became a Village Health Guide to help people in my village. I ensure that TB patients take their medicine so they do not become resistant to antibiotics. I also work with HIV patients to make sure they stay healthy and I sell condoms from my front room as well.

It makes me happy when I see the positive influence I am able to have in people’s lives.  I managed to stop a case of female infanticide by convincing the family to keep their child. I also persuaded a young widow to take an HIV test after her husband died.  At first she was reluctant to look after herself but she is getting treatment and now she is healthy again.

Government hospitals often discriminate against people with STIs. Now if anyone in the village is ill they come to me first. Before they would have gone to pray at the temple or paid a local ‘doctor’ for expensive medicines.