Trickle Up Graduation Pilot Film on “The Test of Poverty”
New clothes. A new house. A child enrolled in a local school for the first time. Everyday images in many parts of the world, but a great change for a group of women in a village in India’s West Bengal whose path out of poverty is charted in a short film released this month by Trickle Up.
A new documentary entitled “The Test of Poverty,” which is partly-financed by CGAP, follows the progress out of poverty of two women out of 300 participating in the Trickle Up Ultra Poor Program, one of the nine pilots in the CGAP-Ford Foundation Graduation Program. This program is designed to help the very poor – those living on less than US1.25 a day – move out of extreme poverty. Indian filmmaker Gautam Bose directed the 18-minute film featuring the families of two West Bengal women, Samiran Bibi and Jamuna Sardar, and their successful path to greater self-sufficiency through the “Graduation” approach.
In January 2007, both families were living day-to-day, struggling to feed themselves more than once a day, or to clothe and educate their children. Through a process of community consultation, they were among the very poorest families in their village selected to receive assistance from the Trickle Up Ultra Poor Program: in Samiran’s case, it was goats and, for Jamuna, sheep and pigs. The film emphasizes that the donation of livestock is only the foundation for the graduation model, with proper training, temporary consumption support, access to savings, and regular “hand holding” from field staff providing critical support throughout the course of the program.
As the film shows, both women participated in self-help groups through which participants pooled their savings to create a collective fund that all could use for special needs. By the time of her “graduation” in October 2009, Samiran Bibi’s efforts with goats and rice farming had translated into three meals a day, a new house, and an embroidery business that she started with her husband. Jamuna Sardar tells of building a new toilet in her home, new clothes for her family, and enrollment in school for her son. Trickle Up plans to build upon the success of women such as Samiran and Jamuna by expanding its reach to 5,000 people in the poorest parts of India.
Trickle Up has posted the documentary on its Website at www.trickleup.org and a shorter version of the film is also to be found on YouTube.