“I thought if I gave up my studies and started earning, my two other sisters could study, and more importantly, I could help my family make both ends meet” Sri Boloram Boro, 25, from Rengani village of Assam reflects on the decision he made six years back to drop out from school and start working. Boloram’s family, at a point in time, had enough land to lead a decent life. However, unfavourable circumstances for the family left them with a very small piece of land for their sustenance. Academically, he was never the brightest one, but he enjoyed his time in school with friends. He recalls how he would roam around in his village and play with friends, with little idea about what ‘responsibility’ meant. However, his childhood freedom was cut short at an early age. He was in 6th standard, just 12 years old at the time, when he realized that providing for his family was more important than spending his time in futile activities.
To support his father, a smallholder farmer, Boloram started working in the homestead piggery. This transition, nonetheless, did not come easy. He missed his time at school and was not productive at work at the outset. While these transitions were taking place in Boloram’ life, his two sisters were doing exceptionally well in their studies. Realizing this, he was determined to carve a different fate for them. He started spending more time and effort in the homestead piggery. Despite his best efforts, he was not able to earn more than INR 2000 per month from this due to a number of factors, such as limited knowledge about feed, maintaining hygiene, preventing diseases, etc. The income generated through this work was barely enough to provide for the family of five and support the education of his two sisters.
In 2015, ICCO supported Grameen Sahara in reaching out to Boloram’s village. The program implemented through the Village Organization (VO) was to start a piggery unit. By then, his work at the homestead piggery had already started earning attention and recognition from fellow villagers. The VO members decided that Boloram would be fit to work at the pig rearing farm, and thus approached him with an offer. Recalling the moment when the VO members approached him brings a broad smile to his face. He says, “When I was offered the opportunity to work at the big pig rearing farm, it felt as if I was finally rewarded for the sacrifices I made.”
Following his employment, he received training on a range of topics, including Artificial Insemination, Disease Management, Castration, and Vaccination. Capacitated by these trainings, he brought additional value to the piggery unit. Currently, he gets a steady income of INR 5000 from the farm. With this money, he is supporting both his sisters (one studying Bachelor Degree in Arts and one in 9th standard) to move ahead in life. He also uses his income to cover household and medical expenses. Since he is performing his duties efficiently, he is also allowed to go home between work hours and help in the household work.
The support extended by the project to Boloram has touched and changed five immediate lives and continues to inspire many more around.