The Phoenix Nursery at Kadambathur in Tiruvallur district offers a fresh branch of hope to a group of 12 women living with HIV/AIDS, providing them with a livelihood. .
The Tiruvallur district administration, TANSACS (TN State AIDS Control Society), the District Rural Development Agency and the Horticulture Department have joined hands to help the group of women earn an income, and thereby, have some financial stability.
According to one of the women, Lakshmi (name changed) the nursery, funded to the tune of ₹20 lakh from power company NTECL, will supply saplings to customers who want to gift plants at weddings and at other events in colleges and similar institutions. “I used to work at an industrial unit but after my marriage I moved, and so had to leave that job. Now, this income will help my family to lead a more comfortable life,” she said.
The women have been provided training to identify plants and also to make panchakavya (organic mixture) and cattle feed, which they will be selling at the nursery, which is located inside the BDO office in Kadambathur. The nursery will have herbal plants, tree saplings, seeds and also seedlings of vegetable plants. The women will get to work for a total of 240 days in a year and be paid ₹350 per day.
On Thursday, District Collector Alby John Varghese inaugurated the nursery that at present has over 2,000 plants and tree saplings supplied by the Horticulture Department.
Tiruvallur district has a total of 2,100 persons living with HIV/AIDS and many of them are offered employment through the MNREGA and other schemes. “We have formed a small Self-Help Group for this initiative through the Magalir Thittam. Already, they have managed to get three orders. We hope to help them with orders too, in future, so that it will become a sustainable project,” he said.
K. S. Gowrishankar, District Programme Manager, AIDS Prevention and Control Unit, said this was being implemented as a pilot project and depending on its success, it would be implemented in other districts as well. “The aim of TANSACS is to ensure livelihood for those living with HIV/AIDS apart from providing medicines and prevention of its spread. We are now planning to take this nursery online too, so that more people can place orders,” he said.