“I met Mrs Gariyali online. Yep, it was Facebook! But, the background story is amazing.
I had been to Rwanda and seen the women’s Self Help Groups. It had such an impact on me that I enrolled in a Masters of International and Community Development with a plan to do a research project on the groups. I wanted to know IF they were really working, and if so, then WHY.
Then in 2014, when reviewing the literature around Self Help Groups, there was one recurring name — CK Gariyali. I didn’t know if it was a man or woman but read that the person was living in Tamil Nadu, India so set about trying to make contact. I wrote to NGOs, government departments and publication houses connected with her books. But try as I may, there was no progress.
Until one day, in seeming desperation, I turned to Facebook. And there she was… a brief message from me met with a brief response and, before I knew it, we had connected and I was on my way to Chennai.
That was May 2016.
Today, Mrs Gariyali leads our Indian in-country partner for the Birds Nest India project. She is an absolute wonder and I don’t use this language lightly! She really is an amazing woman who has committed her life and talents to serving the people and women of India.
For most of her life she has served in the Indian civil service running government departments focusing on community health and development, as well as wider administration portfolios. It was during one of these periods of service that she hit upon the idea that sharing communication and gathering women were two sides of the same coin. If you brought women together to discuss issues of the community then they became the best source for disseminating the information and implementing any new approaches or systems.
In this way, she made remarkable headway in reducing the birth rate in Tamil Nadu, improving nutrition and health practices for children, increasing the enrolment and attendance of children into schooling, and creating training and business opportunities for local women.
This is the background to the Self Help Group approach making such a spectacular impact through Foxglove’s Grassroots Rwanda project. And it is wonderful to know that the Foxglove threads wind between projects bringing shared resources, knowledge and partnerships. I love it!”