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Unique Savings Scheme Aids Sex Workers

members who have saved to the tune of Rs.20,000 in three months.

But banks do not want to have the marginalised as account holders, say officials. "Though I wanted to save money in a bank, I had problems opening an account due to my gender," Vidya, a transgender person, told IANS.

"This programme has helped me start an account. I've now learnt to differentiate between necessity and luxury. I cut down most of my expenses. Now I am an expert in making flower vases and my savings help me market the products. I am now independent," said a proud Vidya.

TAI and VHS recently presented awards for the best savers in a contest called 'Naallay Rani' or the 'Queen of Tomorrow'.

Stunned that she had won the best-saver award, Muniamma from Dharmapuri district said: "I never dreamt that I would win the award with the small amounts of money I set aside. But now I find that my efforts have yielded results."

Explained Jayashree, TAI's communication officer: "The idea is not to just reward them for their savings but their consistency and the ability to standout as role models."

N.S. Murali, honorary secretary of VHS, added: "Savings is integrally linked to a feeling of well-being and empowerment. Such an event recognises their efforts in accessing health care services and staying healthy."

Activist Aarthi Pai noted that initial feedback during interactions showed training to save had been most valued by the people.

"The most important thing is that they are now at least tracking how much they earn and spend in a month," she said.

People are praising the scheme.

"The programme made us think about our future and the need for developing mechanisms to take care of us," said Sathyavathi, who has saved Rs.7,000 in three months.

Added Jamuna Rani, a former sex worker from Vellore: "My children have also become 'Naallay Rani'."


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