Established to meet the health needs of the Malto tribal peoples, Prem Jyoti Community Hospital continues to run monthly mobile clinics in five locations that serve 68 villages in total. These clinics focus on home visits, antenatal care, immunizations, and general health checkups.
Six years ago, the staff developed women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs) to promote livelihood development and women’s empowerment.
Since Malto households are run by women, Prem Jyoti’s community project leaders reached out to them. Historically, Maltos have had the tendency to borrow money whenever they encounter a big expense such as a health treatment, wedding, or field cultivation. The catch is that the interest rate is 50% and they are expected to pay the loan back in six months. The community project leaders taught them to band together in groups of 10 to 20 women who each agree to save a fixed amount each month. These funds are held in a bank account, and when a group member needs funds, she can borrow it from the group. This has virtually eliminated debt in these Malto villages.
Another area in which the community staff work with the Maltos is watershed management for their crops. The Maltos dwell in the hills, and water runoff and soil erosion are big concerns. Their land is their greatest asset and their main source of income, so preserving the soil is imperative. They build small stone dams, known as bunds, to conserve soil and water and increase the number of crops that can be grown in a season.
Another important technique is improved cultivation of the crops themselves known as System of Rice Intensification (SRI). Using this method, only two kilograms of rice are needed to plant an acre, rather than the 30 kilograms typically used. In one demo field, the seed sown was only half a kilogram but the yield was 99 kilograms.
Each of these community project areas is key to helping the Maltos live healthy, nutritionally sound, and fiscally wise lives. The impact that Prem Jyoti’s community team is having on these villages is immeasurable..