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Disaster Changed Her Life
Oxfam India / Naureen Khan
“I feel empowered to see how my contributions to our household income have increased significantly. Disasters cannot be stopped, but Oxfam taught me to fight adversity and emerge stronger than before.”
30-year-old mother of two, Sylvie is from Ennagaram village in Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu which was devastated by Floods in December 2015.
Sylvie recollects the intensity and unimaginable force with which the floods wreaked havoc in their lives. “My husband had just sowed the paddy. Floods destroyed our crops. We lost most of our household items. Our roof collapsed. We were left with nothing but debt.”
For Sylvie and her family, the months that followed were even more challenging than the struggles they had to endure during the immediate aftermath of floods.
“We took loans, but we didn't know how to repay them. We wouldn’t have managed without the Shelter and Hygiene Items we received from Oxfam India.”
Once the sowing period was over, Sylvie had no money to buy seeds for the next crop cycle. She spent days and nights making chain necklaces to sell which she learned through workshops.
From supplementing the household income, Sylvie had now become the sole earning member in her household with 4 mouths to feed.
“After Oxfam gave our workshop five jewellery-making machines, the production got doubled. Now, they are better in quality and fetch a higher price in the market.”
Oxfam India Disaster Risk Reduction Program
Oxfam’s focus following the December 2015 Tamil Nadu Floods was community-defined and -led recovery—versus simply short-term, traditional relief.
After the Emergency Relief Phase, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Team stayed on in Cuddalore to address deep, pre-existent challenges—in order to assist the most vulnerable communities to rebuild their shelters, as well as to meet their food and other daily requirements, without having to resort to negative coping mechanisms.
Oxfam’s livelihood interventions were planned after Detailed Livelihood Assessments and consultation with affected communities through Participatory Rural Appraisals (PRAs) and Focus Group Discussions. The women’s group in Ennanagaram village came forward and expressed keen interest on improving the competitiveness and output of their chain-making venture.
Earlier, they would sit together at their workshop and make approximately 50 chains per day by hand. Now with the introduction of 5 jewellery making machines from Oxfam to their workshop, they are able to manufacture a minimum of 100 chains daily.
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