Selvi is a young tribal woman living in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Because of their poverty, Selvi and her husband borrowed money from a rich local landowner to help pay for the food and rent that they just couldn’t afford.
They were forced to repay the loans with crippling interest attached, but it proved impossible.
Selvi and her husband were made to work as bonded labourers in a futile attempt to repay their mounting debts. They were effectively debt slaves, forced to work day after day in hot and dangerous conditions in a rice mill.
But Signpost’s Indian partner organisation, the Peoples’ Education and Rights Trust (PERT), tirelessly lobbied local government officials on the couple’s behalf. They demanded their right to live as free people, under Indian and international law, until the couple was finally released from their slavery at the mill.
Selvi was given money by Signpost International to help develop her own business and she was able to set up a ‘petty shop’ (small grocery store) in Kadambur.
Her shop is the first and only store in this small tribal hamlet of just 22 families and, because of Kadambur’s location, Selvi also attracts lots of passing trade from people who come in to buy snacks and locally made soda.
Business is so good that Selvi’s initial 3000 rupee investment has now grown to a stock of goods in her shop worth 7000 rupees!
With a sustainable income of her own Selvi can now no longer be forced to work as a bonded labourer.
“It is so different to working as a debt slave in the rice mills,” says Selvi.
“Now I own a shop where others come and buy from me!”
If you would like to help Signpost International help more people like Selvi, then please donate here.