Currently, AmritaSREE comprises 15,000 groups with more than 2.5 lakh members in 21 states most of who are from villages
Into its 17th year, AmritaSREE (Self-Reliance Education & Employment), the women’s empowerment programme initiated by Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma), launched a second instalment of a COVID-19 aid package to SHG (self-help group) members. It consists of financial assistance, grocery kits and clothes worth ₹35 crore. Aid is also going to people affected by recent floods in Kerala.
Currently, AmritaSREE comprises 15,000 groups with more than 2.5 lakh members in 21 states most of who are from villages and isolated areas.
Amma appreciated the fact that these SHG members “do not shift their responsibilities to anyone else, or depend on others, or blame others.” “If we focus on the faults and shortcomings of others, there will be time for nothing else. Instead, take up the reins of your life firmly in your own hands and move forward,” she said.
“Many of the AmritaSREE members in different units have been able to put in money and start their own businesses. Many have been able to build homes for the homeless with profit from their businesses. Many were able to conduct weddings with the money. Many were able to give money to others for treating illnesses. Even though those people did not have much, they had the attitude to contribute what they had earned through their hard work,” she said.
V Muraleedharan, Union Minister of State for External Affairs & Parliamentary Affairs of India said the advancement of society is entirely depends on the empowerment of women. “And it is true that groups such as Amrita Sree have helped a lot to empower women in Kerala,” he said.
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan,who virtually attended the event, said he was deeply moved by the story of a poor village woman who came to Amma to report about a disease that affected the poultry in their village, and that Amma spent a long time speaking with the woman about it. For an affluent onlooker, the death of two or three hens may sound very small. But for the poor woman, poultry-rearing was a means of livelihood. But Amma realised this and considered it her duty to give her patient care and console her, he said.
“The message that Amma gives is that there is nothing holier than feeling the pain of those who suffer. That is the essence of all devotion,” Khan said.
C.R. Mahesh, MLA from Karunagapplly constituency, appreciated that Amma helps all people irrespective of religion, caste, creed, or affiliation and they receive her love and care.
AmritaSREE started in 2004 in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami. The natural disaster not only destroyed thousands of lives, but also seriously impacted the fishing industry. When the fishermen and their families explained the crisis to Amma, she immediately understood that alternate forms of livelihood were necessary and that the women in the households should learn to develop new skill sets to help their families make ends meet. With this goal, Amma launched the community-based self-help group programme.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the Mata Amritanandamayi Math has provided close to ₹50 crores in direct financial assistance to AmritaSREE SHG members. Because the pandemic continues unabated, the Math has decided to now give an additional financial assistance of ₹35 crores.
With this, the total amount contributed since the onset of COVID-19 stands close to ₹85 crores. These contributions include ₹10 crores the Math contributed to the Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund and three crores given to the Kerala Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund towards COVID-19 relief measures in April of 2020.
Every year, on the anniversary of AmritaSREE’s launch, the Math provides a seed grant of ₹30,000 to each SHG. Over five-lakh sarees are also distributed to AmritaSREE members, along with new clothes for their families. Even when the COVID epidemic hit in 2020, Amma ensured all necessary help, including food kits, reached all AmritaSREE members.