How do Kolping Families live in India, which projects help them to generate an income? Sigrid Stapel, who is in charge of development policy education work at KOLPING INTERNATIONAL, reports on her visit to Kolping projects in India:
Thrilled by the work of Kolping India, Peter Jung, Managing Director of Kolping Switzerland, Vera Heinz, Representative for International Partnership Work of Kolping Augsburg, Gregor Federhen, Country Desk Officer of KOLPING INTERNATIONAL and I returned from our five-day project visit in India at the end of May. The second largest national association has 40,000 members, 90% of them are women, all organized in savings groups.
The national office had put together a very interesting program for us. The focus was placed particularly on the meetings with Kolping Families. Proud and self-assured, the women told us how they were able to improve their own and their families’ lives thanks to the support they received from Kolping. At the meeting in Zone Pannur, the Kolping Families were proud to report that two of the members are going to run for the village parliament. One woman has obtained a driver’s license and is now driving a TukTuk.
Personal initiative pays off
Members of the St. Thomas Kolping Family in Chinnamuttom, a coastal village in Kanyakumari district, have recently started making fertilizer from fish waste. The group buys fresh fish in large quantities, cleans it and processes it into dried fish that is sold at the market. After cleaning, the fish waste is used to produce the fertilizer.
We were able to see the operation of large compost tanks in a Kolping Family in Sahaya Nagar in the diocese of Kuzhithurai. Here, the waste from the surrounding households and the wedding hall is collected and processed into fertilizer. The group members not only use the fertilizer for their own needs, but also sell it in the neighborhood.
Kolping Family runs organic food store
Kolping member Sunitha proudly presented her backyard garden where she grows a variety of vegetables. The produce is sold by the organic food store, which is run jointly by the Kolping family. The store is open every day and sells the fresh organic vegetables grown by the 20 members in their backyards. The group uses WhatsApp to promote their products. The different vegetables available at the store are posted to customers via WhatsApp messages and are sold within a few hours after the announcement.
Kolping India supports startups
Kolping sisters Sreekala, Jaspin Shiney and Sunitha have joined forces to manufacture almond milk, sweets and popcorn for a living. The business was established as part of the Kolping India Livelihood Reconstruction Project. The three members, who had previously run their businesses individually, found it difficult to restart their business after the Covid pandemic. Therefore, they decided to work as a team to produce more products for the market. Kolping India provided them with financial support and advice on how to achieve their goal. We also met Ranimol, a poultry farmer and member of the Kolping Family Thanima who keeps about a thousand chickens and has a small pond for fish farming in her garden.
It is also interesting to note that word of Kolping activities is spreading and attracting attention. During a lunch with the Bishop of Neyatinkara, Dr. Vincent Samuel, he expressed his high esteem for the work of Kolping India.
The journey started with a visit to Kolping India’s model farm and the construction progress of the Kolping vocational training center in Kancheepuram in the state of Tamil Nadu, which was inaugurated by General Praeses Msgr. Christoph Huber in early June. As soon as it is completely finished, further training courses in the agricultural sector will be held there. “In the future, the Resource Center will be used by Kolping India to run courses in the different areas of the projects with the aim of providing training that will lead to better income, independence and self-reliance, in line with the spirit of Adolph Kolping,” General Praeses Christoph Huber said happily. Along with a neighbouring model farm, smallholders there will learn how to increase their yields and thus their income with the help of ecological farming methods.