The right support and push at the most opportune moment can change people’s lives. The story of Bela Ben corroborates this belief.

Bela Ben (name changed), aged 35 years, lives in Dabha village, Jambusar Block in Bharuch district of Gujarat with her husband and three children. They were landless labourers and faced difficulties on a daily basis to get employment. Their pet goat became the only source of income, but it was a high risk income for the household as animal deaths were quite common.

Given the circumstances and daily grind, Bela Ben turned into an alcoholic. This took a toll on her health, as well as her reputation in the entire village. People used to look at her with disdain and distrust.

Then came a ray of hope for her.

In March 2019, the Improved Agriculture and Inclusive Dairy Value Chain Promotion (IAIDVC) programme was launched. The advantages of this women’s livelihood program which provided a women-run health care management service to goats, among other services, benefited her as well.

Implemented by CARE India, in collaboration with The Goat Trust, funded by PI Industries, it is a timely and cost-effective solution to access animal health care and solved the critical challenge of high mortality and morbidity of goats.

Bela Ben was among the women who were selected to provide services to livestock farmers. She was trained for five days on the technical aspects of livestock health. These women were technically supported by Cluster Livestock Manager (CLM) in creating The Pashu Sakhi (friend of farm animals). She received a livestock health management kit with medicines for health care management of goats, as well as a uniform to wear on duty. Soon, she started providing goat health services in her village.

As time passed, she successfully organised her first Goat Health Camp with the help of CARE India whose programmes support sustainable development. All the goats were given necessary treatment and provided with deworming medicines

as well. The camp treated 96 goats and was able to raise Rs. 500. The women’s livelihood programme has turned her into an independent and responsible earning member of her family. Also, with the availability of healthy goats, the community can now negotiate a better selling price in the markets and contribute more to their family finances.

Bela Ben’s transformation from being a drunkard to a Pashu Sakhi is an inspirational story for every member in the village. Her satisfaction with her work is well reflected in her words when she said: “I am very happy now. All my fellow villagers address me as Doctor.”

CARE India’s Improved Agriculture and Inclusive Dairy Value Chain Promotion (IAIDVC) project in March 2019, initiated an alternative community-led livestock extension service mechanism titled ‘The Pashu Sakhi’ ( friend of farm animals) has covered 60 villages in the Jambusar district of Gujarat.

Shatarupa Kashyap and Navneet Kaur