Empower deserted women and widows in rural India

by Chetana-Vikas (Consciousness-Development)
Vetted
Surekha at home with her two daughters
Surekha at home with her two daughters

Dead of the night. A group of women walked purposefully towards a large lake filled with water. It was twilight.

Reaching the water body, about 5-6 women waded into the water while others stood guard on the banks.

Meanwhile the water reached the waists of the wading women.

It was clear they were searching for something. After about 5-10 minutes they stumbled on something under the water. They were delighted.

There were 7-8 drums of about 200 litre capacity each.

With some effort, the women brought out the drums and threw away its contents.

As the women looked at the empty drums they felt happiness and hope --  hope of a happy family, hope of money remaining at home for food and education, hope of escaping tormenting beating of their husbands.

These women were part of the action group which Surekha had formed in her village. They were and are fighting the manufacture and consumption of illegal liquor in the village.

Not long ago, Surekha had no reason to be anxious about her future when she was married to a man who actually and fortunately had a stable labour job at the forest department. Reality soon hit her when she found him to be totally addicted to liquor and all the money earned went to fuel this addiction.

He succumbed to this addiction within a few years of marriage leaving Surekha to fend for herself and 3 kids.

This made her fiercely resolve to fight and eradicate all the liquour from her village.

Well, how could she ?  First she had to see the family properly fed and live. That made her look towards the Self Help Group. She knew a bit of tailoring so took a small loan to buy a sewing machine.  By and by with some more savings, she took another loan to start a small trade of selling ready-made garments.  She repays  the small loans fast enough to take another small loan again and thus she has been able to gain and maintain a consistent profit.

With this business sense and acumen, she has manage to educate her children.

This year, just prior to festival season, she got a loan of Rs.15,000/- (US $ 225) repaid, borrowed &  repaid twice, leading to an annual profit of Rs.10,000/- (US $ 150). 

Due to this support given so generously by all of you Surekha is secure with her consistent livelihood and is dauntingly fighting the cause of liquor addiction in her village., She was even beaten by the men of her village. But her fight goes on, unforgiving against the people and the system which made her a widow, leading even her children to vulnerable situation.

She feels more meaning in her life due to this cause and fight taken up.
You are actually helping a woman whose empowerment is economic as well for fighting social evils, when you decide to talk about this project and also support.

The project is -

<http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empower-deserted-women-and-widows-in-rural-india/,>.  

Can also know about us through FB Link.

<https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chetana-Vikas/162861643736214.>

Thanks for your solidarity against any type of addiction through your support to Surekha.

Niranjana
Project Leader

Daughters who study also help in household chores
Daughters who study also help in household chores
On the sewing machine for economic self reliance
On the sewing machine for economic self reliance
Readymade garments being sold in festival season
Readymade garments being sold in festival season
Cooking for the family after a tiring & hectic day
Cooking for the family after a tiring & hectic day
Surekha showing a wall of her house to be repaired
Surekha showing a wall of her house to be repaired
Baby. The forehead Red dot which started it all.
Baby. The forehead Red dot which started it all.

DOUGHTY WOMAN !

From being a small, roly-poly toddler and so sticking on with the pet name of 'Baby' - it was a big mental transition for Baby to experience being shunned, made fun of, exploited and not allowed to be a part of society of which she was so much a part of.

This total topsy turvy happened all because her husband expired very soon after marriage, leaving her to fend for herself, her two kids aged 3-4 years and a host of relatives who treated her with scorn.

The hurt initiated even from very small things. Traditionally, the Indian women sport a 'red/maroon' dot on forehead which shows their married status. Overnight, she was not allowed her everyday habit, and was forced to have a 'black' dot on her forehead which signified her new widowed status. Significantly, all of a sudden Baby was stopped from attending family functions, religious gatherings and other important festivals usually celebrated by married women. Not only that, she was looked at with suspicion whenever she had to go out for work. She was labelled as person of loose character when she had reasons to leave village for some work.

All this left a deep impact on Baby who had studied only till 7th standard.

Friends, this is where Chetana-Vikas steps in, with the support given by you.

On face of it is only monetary support to improve livelihood, which Baby made use of. But the meetings with women who sanctioned her loan amount and the regular interaction with other women helped her increase her self-belief and a chance to come out of the forced cocoon that the surrounding people had built for her. She joined a child care centre as a helper. However, she had to pick loans to keep on sustaining her income, due to the meager salary. With economic self-reliance, her real empowerment showed through her fight back.

She started sporting a red dot on her forehead. She organized special functions for married women in her house and invited both married and other widowed women like her. This togetherness gave tremendous boost to other vulnerable women of the village, and they felt the solidarity to solve their own problems.

She educated her children with difficulty but made sure that they are more aware and conscious citizens. Baby's daughter is one of the pioneer girls of the village who refused to marry a boy who demanded dowry.

Today, Baby is actively working for the social development work of her village. She is a strong member of the village women's organization working for questions like De-addiction, Childrens' rights, Single unmarried Mothers. She, her children and other women of the village are very vocal about development issues at the Governing Council Meetings.

Today, she has ensured that her daughter-in-law lives an aware and conscious life too. She made her daughter start a home business. They took up a loan of Rs.15,000/- ($ 227) and have started a garment business. Baby helps her, advices her. This is supplementing their income which is increasing day by day.

When YOU support US, you are actually helping a woman whose empowerment is economic, social and also political.

The project is - <http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empower-deserted-women-and-widows-in-rural-india/,>.  

Can also know about us through FB Link. <https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chetana-Vikas/162861643736214.>

Thanks for standing by this Doughty woman who took a small step of applying a Dot on her forehead to start her own revolution.

Niranjana
Project Leader

The child care helper grooming the next generation
The child care helper grooming the next generation
Baby helping her daughter-in-law for self reliance
Baby helping her daughter-in-law for self reliance
With other village women to solve local issues.
With other village women to solve local issues.
Villagers now entrusting their children with Baby.
Villagers now entrusting their children with Baby.
Sindhu
Sindhu's fragile frame handling 6 kg iron press

6 kilogram - is the weight of the iron press which, although stretches Sindhu's fragile frame, helps her make two ends meet.

Born in a rural family, Sindhu was not equipped well for her future life, socially and mentally. Had an education till primary school which means she could barely read and not write. Married off to a farmer, she had three children with her husband.

Life gave her joy in bits and pieces and the rest was shoves and pushes.

Socially, she had to face the ire of her family and other women since all her three children were girls. However, she stood by them and could educate them till secondary school. With a drunkard husband, who did not work fully, it was a tough deal. She lost him to liver failure in a few years.

Life look a turn when she joined the Self Help Group of women in her village. With small loans of Rs.500 ($7.9) or Rs.2000 ($31), she managed to cover small basic needs like purchasing books for her girls, some other basic need and also crisis like illness and treatment of a family member. Women take small loans because their paying capacity in a rural household is also less.

When she heard the substantial support that could be taken by widowed and deserted women at one go through Global Giving, she decided to firm up and try something new.

She took a loan of Rs.4,000/- ($63) through the women federation at Chetana-Vikas and used it buy a coal based iron press and some coal to run it. Putting together some wooden planks, her ironing table was ready. When too tired, the ironing could be done on floor too.

With leanings and aspiration towards a urban lifestyle, it took no time for this business to start in her village. She earns about Rs. 35 ($0.55) to Rs. 50 ($0.78) per day which increases to Rs. 100-150 ($1.6 to $2.4) per day during marriage season.

She works in the fields during day time and runs the press in evenings or any other free time.

Friends, increases in consistent income even if small, also helps the women get a steady livelihood support. This business is supposed to pick up further which will enable her to get more loan to increase or diversify her business.

Since losing her husband to country liquor, Sindhu is also an active pioneer alongwith other women to eradicate liquor from her village.

All our friends and supporters whom we are grateful to, we have a suggestion.

If any birthdays coming up, weddings coming up or any other important occasion of your lifetime;  Amongst other things, you can also make it memorable. Gifting wings to a crippled life by supporting the following project for the occasion -

<http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empower-deserted-women-and-widows-in-rural-india/,>.  

Can also learn about us through FB Link.

<https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chetana-Vikas/162861643736214.>

Thanks a lot and,

Warm regards,

Niranjana
Project Leader

Sindhu at her home where she lives all by her self
Sindhu at her home where she lives all by her self
Constraint of space is a problem in small house
Constraint of space is a problem in small house
Going to deliver the pressed cloth to her client
Going to deliver the pressed cloth to her client
Life has taken a turn for the better
Life has taken a turn for the better
An ardent anti-liquor campaigner for her village
An ardent anti-liquor campaigner for her village
With packed lunch nearby, Geeta preparing the site
With packed lunch nearby, Geeta preparing the site

Society is full of stories of women who have always played second fiddle to men of the community. Their lives were always in the hands of either their father, brother AND/OR their husbands and other male relatives.

So when fate throws them into situations where they cannot turn to any man, the women are totally lost, vulnerable and actually frightened.

Geeta, however had to gear up for life much before her husband died. A chronic drunkard, he was of no use to Geeta's household which had to see the education, food and upbringing of one boy and 2 girl children.

Actually he had a good asset as he was owner of a brick kiln. Due to his drinking, it was in shambles.

Geeta firmed her resolve, started learning this business, literally 'brick by brick' and also shoved her husband into helping with work.

Slowly an astute mind took over and the business started picking up.
In between, her husband succumbed to his liquor addiction.
Suffering her loss, but by this time, Geeta had made in roads into the business.
The funds provided by you all helped her to buy new material & equipment.

One day, smoke started emanating from the furnace and the brick kiln was on its way.
The family business was revived.

Brick making is not a small trade.
So, Chetana-Vikas women even helped her to link up with a bank, so that she could get more loan. Picking up labour, hiring vehicles, transporting bricks, bargaining a good price, choosing appropriate soil, running the kiln efficiently, bank transactions et al is done by Geeta herself.

This widow saw to it that her children get a good education, despite all odds.

The months of rainy season, when this brick making closes down, she has started making earthen deities of local gods and sells them in local market for these 5 months.

Friends, this is one of the stories where a small hand transforms lives manifold.
With a profit of Rs.50,000/- ($ 805) that she is able to earn, Geeta and her three children are looking forward to a healthier, brighter and more secure life. All due to your small hand of support.

Actually it also helps in realizing the inherent potential of these women who are usually driven to a life of drudgery, unending household work and usually subjugation. This life is not always their choice.
We would like you to note that Geeta is a pioneer entrepreneur who has taken up brick making in our region.

Taking a cue from Geeta, we also have to reconstruct lives of other needy women 'Brick by Brick'.

Direct all your friends to join this noble endeavor.

<http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empower-deserted-women-and-widows-in-rural-india/,>.  

We are also accessible on <https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chetana-Vikas/162861643736214.>

Warm Regards,

Niranjana
Project Leader

Supervising & ensuring quality with labourers
Supervising & ensuring quality with labourers
Established furnace at Geeta
Established furnace at Geeta's Brick Kiln
Geeta with fired bricks in the background
Geeta with fired bricks in the background
Bricks being stacked for future transportation
Bricks being stacked for future transportation
Geeta
Geeta's house made with left over bricks
Babytai plucking vegetable from her kitchen garden
Babytai plucking vegetable from her kitchen garden

A husband after 2 years of married life and birth of a girl, doubting her fidelity just looks at his wife with scorn and suspicion and suddenly says, "leave my home, I do not want you here".

 Although nothing new in this behavior, that day something snapped inside his wife, Babytai.

She roared back, "who are you to ask me to leave? I myself abandon you as my husband".

Picking up her only daughter, she stormed out of her husband's house, went back to her parents village and started a lonely but valiant struggle to fend for herself and her daughter.

Friends, here I would like to bring it to you notice that for many persons like Babytai a New Year resolution is not for things like "I have to shed some weight" or "I will start getting up earlier at 5.00 am" and so on.

To continue living is a resolve to be completed and that too with fight for getting enough food, education, and other basic amenities for herself, her daughter & parents.

So, the husband got deserted. Babytai, without wasting time in crying over spilt milk, threw herself into earning money in whatever way she could understand.

Taking cue from Chetana-Vikas, she took loans and started diversified small businesses.

  • She established a kitchen garden and sowed short duration vegetables to sell to every one. She also has a section of flower garden to sell flowers on festivals.

  • Started a small shop to sell stationary, artificial jewelry and glass bangles etc.

  • Although a 4th standard primary pass out, she applied for a license for selling kerosene, with help of Chetana-Vikas guidance.

          Till date, her reputation is of distributing kerosene fairly to needy families and with care and concern which is a 
          contrast and a far cry from corruption ridden distribution through government licencees.

  • Indian households make designs in front of their homes which is a time consuming affair. She started another business by selling dry coloured powders to use in such designs.

Babytai, now 49, an unexposed, uninformed person living in interiors of India is actually running a business conglomerate albeit small.  Whatever profit she earns from one activity is used to push the other activity. All this after she earns her needful daily expenses.  She deliberately keeps a low profit margin to draw customers to her business.

Village people have come to know of her as a resolute and a resourceful woman who has many ideas up her sleeve. She has a nose for business where no one has thought of any. She has used the money provided by you all to enhance the carrying capacity of her small business and also investing in getting a tap connection to irrigate her
small garden.

Her respect in villages has increased and she is called in as a mentor for many actions in the village. These developed facets of her personality are a different story altogether.
Chetana-Vikas invites her many times as a Resource Person for other village women who wish to be entrepreneurs.

Friends !  We hope the festival season has gone well for all of you.

We want all of you to have a New Year Resolution of directing at least 10 of your friends or relatives to this Global Giving Page to help hidden diamonds like Babytai.

<http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/empower-deserted-women-and-widows-in-rural-india/,>. 
We are also accessible on <https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chetana-Vikas/162861643736214.>

We ensure and assure that your money goes exactly where intended and to people who really need it.
A BIG THANKS  for all that has been already done by you.

Through Global Giving, our New Year resolution is to help atleast 50 women this year.
We await your numbers in your New Year resolution.

A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR !

Niranjana, Other Team Members & the Rural Women who have brought all of us together.

Plucking flowers to sell on Festival days
Plucking flowers to sell on Festival days
Selling Kerosene fuel from home to villagers
Selling Kerosene fuel from home to villagers
Babytai assembling her wares before she leaves
Babytai assembling her wares before she leaves
On a round to customers houses to sell her wares
On a round to customers houses to sell her wares
 

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Project Leader:
Ms. Niranjana Maru
Wardha, Maharashtra India
$15,204 raised of $15,000 goal
 
203 donations
$0 to go
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