I got it
As I joined the organisation (PRADAN) in 1998, I am amazed that the community, I will be engaged with , are illiterate. I became astonished, I was the first post graduate of my community but even graduate girl is hardly visible in this community, the frequency may be one in 10,000 population or even more than that.70% of women don’t identify the national language, don’t know to sign their name, give their thumb signature. But the women are very intelligent to understand things , even very good command on numbers. They were supposed to save Rupees10/- per week in their group of 10-20 members and were supposed to take the loan, with a commonly agreed interest per month, if someone feels the need of it . In this way their savings and credit group was running. The fund within the group continues to grow as the group sits, member saves, lending happens and member repays the credit regularly. If the group need the money more than what they have, they can take the help of bank, which lends them seeing the successful internal transaction of the group. They were fantastic in savings and credit despite their intensity of illiteracy, and vibrancy is visible in that group whose members are linked with micro-enterprise. The whole 500-600 groups became federated into one women federation.
Over the period, these groups also serves the purpose of a platform, where women can share their views, issues and concern and get the support of other fellow women, if needs be. Gradually women feel to share their personal problems relating to domestic violence, torture by their partner for stupid reasons like, has not bought dowry, giving birth to girl child, talking with other women, attending meeting and trainings and not cooking tasty foot items etc. Some of the women are the regular victims for some reason or other. These groups of illiterate and poor women have addressed the cases of many such victim of their own community either by themselves or by the support of the federation. The federation was the source of motivation for me. In 2002, I got the opportunity to attend South Asia; US Exchange Programme: to End Domestic Violence against Women, organised by Family Violence Prevention Fund at San Francisco and New York. The trip broadened my knowledge and understanding on the domestic violence issues. After returning from the exchange program, I organised a training program taking federation leaders to make them aware about their focus area and build on their knowledge around domestic violence issues, they are facing and their vision to address these issues. Due to social barriers, our leaders could not gather the courage to fight against such a strong and well –built patriarchy system. They faced opposition from the family and from the society, stopped addressing the issue openly but didn’t close the door fully. I also didn’t find a green signal from my organisation to proceed.
In the mean time, in 2006, the federation leaders went through 5 days vision exercise of their federation in which I was one of the Facilitators. During these days the leaders come up with the focus agendas of their community for which they will work for in future. Followed to this visioning 42 leaders took week long gender orientation from “JAGORI”- a renowned Organisation on Gender Training in India and this had a fantastic impact on the women. Their Confidence level raised, motivation to work on most challenging agenda elevated, it worked like a magic. They used to sensitise other women on the blind norms of society and were the first break the meaningless norms that has been established in the society since long. There was a vibrancy in the community. I was anchoring the federation in these days. In their monthly meetings I used to facilitate the movement and take it forward. In 2007 , I facilitated the women to start a Nari Adalat (Women Court) to save the life of their fellow sister which is still running and saving the lives of many women.
In August, 2011, I came across the site of one organisation of India ( www.breakthrough.tv), whose “ring the bell” campaign to give domestic violence a halt in (www.bellbajao.org) touched my heart. In this month only, i was searching alike websites and came across World Pulse website and share my mail ID to get the world pulse news, I continue to get the news from world pulse since then, but I was only a silent reader of world pulse. I didn’t not the way to catch world pulse. This April, I also got a mail from World pulse regarding VFA -2013 and catch it although I missed earlier two opportunities of the year 2011 and 2012. Now I got it. Whatever I got is a gift to me- my voice, my pulse-the World Pulse