The Balaghat Community
Waraseoni is a Tehsil (administrative division) in the Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh State in Central India. Waraseoni Tehsil covers a large area of villages and small towns. Around 15% of its population lives in urban areas whilst 85% live in rural areas. Hindus makes up just under 90% of the population, Muslims 2.2%, Buddhists just under 7%, with the rest divided between the Jain, Christian, Sikh and other faiths.
The total population of Mehandiwala is 4,136 and there are around 1,023 houses. Females make up just under half of the total population, with the female literacy rate being 31.3% compared to an overall rate of 70.6% literacy for the local population as a whole. Scheduled tribes and scheduled castes make up just under 40% of the village populace meaning there is an urgent need for initiatives that help improve livelihood opportunities and quality of life, for women from this group in particular. An increasingly urgent issue is the tendency for rural inhabitants to migrate to large urban cities in order to fine work, where they frequently end up living on the edges of society as daily wage labourers and experience exploitation and homelessness.
Only a small number of people in Mehandiwada have motorbikes and some have push bicycles. Man-pulled cycle rickshaws and animal driven carts are a common form of transport. There are public and private bus services available and the nearest railway station is around 10 km distance. While government-run banking services are available in the village, the closest ATM is 5-10 km away.
Agriculture is an important part of the village economy. Dhan, Chana and Wheat are agricultural commodities grown here. A large part of the area is still covered with forest, the most valuable timber-tree being sal. The sal grows straight and rises to a height of 90 feet with a girth (belt) of 14 or 15 feet. WomenWeave’s Balaghat Project currently employs seven weavers in this village.