Maria suggests the Mahalir Association for Literacy, Awareness and Rights (MALAR) as a great model for what collaborative networks can accomplish even when their participants are poor and illiterate.
MALAR is a combined microcredit/ literacy project. 28,000 women in 1,410 rural Indian villages are now involved. Each agrees to save 20 rupees a month and attend a weekly meeting at which they learn reading and basic business skills. The money saved earns interest, but also fuels a lending program helping the women start small businesses like poultry breeding and pottery-making. Furthermore, the village groups have become nascent civic organizations, providing an alternative avenue for pursuing collective actions and pushing the government for needed improvements. Great work, simply conceived and well-executed, changing the world with the active participation of the resourceless.