Any sound in the night used to startle Venu in her sleep.
A twig breaking somewhere, a dog howling or an unnatural rustle nearby, made her hold her breath and eyes widen with caution.
Only after some time passed by and nothing happened, she would heave a sigh of relief and slowly go back to sleep.
There were also times that she would wake up her small son, asking him to keep quiet and hold a sickle in her hand, preparing to tackle the impending danger.
Fortunately, nothing untoward happened.
Venu from village Dasoda, is a single woman bringing up her son.
She is not single because she has been deserted.
It was SHE who actually DESERTED her husband. He was a heavy drinker and suspicious by nature and beat her regularly. She came back to her own village, her small toddler in tow, but her own family refused to give any support or shelter.
One of the first things needed was a roof above their head. The day used to pass somehow under a tree or in the fields but the main question was of passing the night.
Ultimately, a villager with a kind heart allowed Venu some small space adjoining the concrete wall near his own house. She collected sticks & other material, borrowed strings and using local methods wove the sticks into a sheet. With the wall of the owner’s house becoming one side, the other 3 sides made of sticks came up, forming a single room.
A single woman is the cynosure of all eyes, especially some men. She is supposed to be an easy prey for sexual gratification or even rape. Many women just suffer this humiliation and sometimes exploitation.
It was this fear which was keeping Venu awake, night after night. The dilapidated structure which was her one room home could offer some shelter from the sun, rains and winds but not from the groping and hungry hands of unnaturally perverted minds.
As Venu gained respect due to her fight, her neighbor offered her home to Venu.
She lived in her hut and worked for her living during the day but started going to her neighbor’s home for sleeping at night. This arrangement has worked since the past many years.
Fighting to make the two ends meet, she joined the Self Help Group of Women to have some savings. Tried out odd jobs for increasing income. She also won a contract for serving mid-day meals for preschool children. Her son also grew up.
A government scheme offering support for construction of homes for the needy came by. Venu was delighted but her heart fell when she heard that some basic deposit was necessary to avail of that scheme as a beneficiary. Living on subsistence and educating her son, there was hardly any capital left in hand. The committee from Chetana-Vikas on deserted women and widows, had already decided to help her.
Friends, it was your support which made it possible for Venu to lift a loan to pay this small deposit of Rs.5,000 ($ 81) and enroll as a beneficiary.
With great enthusiasm, and with help from other villagers and women friends she has constructed a house. The scheme offers her a benefit of Rs.1,00,000 ($ 1624).
Although living in a small house, but in reality a shelterless Venu and her son are now proud owners of a four room concrete house which gives security from unwanted elements.
She sleeps in peace in her own house. Venu has finally come home.
Dear friends, in the upcoming festival season, we want you to ask your near and dear ones, friends, to direct their gifts in a form which can help people like Venu. You can see that even a small drop can bring big significant changes to these lives. To make it easy for you the link is provided below.
Venu knows about you all and wishes A VERY HAPPY AND JOYOUS DIWALI to all of you ! The Chetana-Vikas Team joins in wishing the best for you !
Niranjana MaruProject Leader
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http://www.chetanavikas.org (presently under reconstruction, but accessible)