By Maya Singh
The experiment of Self-Help Group (SHG) by Sewa Bharati proved a major success in the remote areas of Jharkhand. Presently, there are over 1400 SHGs in the state run by Sewa Bharati activists. Every group normally has 15-20 women. This number goes over 25,000. Today, these women are writing a new chapter of change after achieving self-respect and self-dependence with the help of SHGs.
SHGs have brought about a sea-change and awareness among the women who are mostly illiterate. They not only developed the feeling of taking group decisions but also to get rid themselves of the clutches and atrocities of private moneylenders. They not only changed their own life but also extended a helping hand to the needy persons of the society. Women of a similar group in Ranchi helped in eye operation of a minor child at Shankar Eye Hospital in Chennai. The women in the group of Meera, Rani and Neetu make bari, papar, pickle, spices, jute bags, etc. Arati, Anuradha and Sanyukta impart training of making candles, growing mushroom, making jam and jailly and also sell the goods made by them. Malati and Keshwanti of Tupudana received the training of making bangles by lakh and goods of jute from Jaipur. Now they not only make all these things themselves but also impart training to other women. They organise stalls of the goods made by them under the banner of Sewa Bharati in various fairs and exhibitions. Some sell the products in local markets while some move up to Delhi to participate in the trade fair organised at Pragati Maidan every year.
The group of women, led by Malati of Tupudana purchased a tractor with the help of a bank and earned money by running it on hire. When the Block Development Officer (BDO) of Khunti misguided Mateshwari Devi regarding the time of foundation stone laying ceremony of a road at 6.00 am in the morning, she, along with other women, went to the spot at 4.00 am and blocked the road to protest against the mischief of the BDO. Finally, Malati got the contract of making that road and she did the work with dedication and received appreciation from all. The SHG of women led by Arati of Namkom purchased an auto-rickshaw and got contracts of building roads, ponds and government buildings.
The women take part in social activities too with full activism. Sarika of Khunti district foiled the game plan of a married person who was going to marry another woman despite having one wife. She earned praise from the people through this conduct. Similarly, Arati, Sanyukta and Anuradha of Namkom jointly got a wedding ceremony stopped, as the groom was addict. They also forced the groom’s parents to pay the expenditure of the bride’s family on the marriage. They later married that girl with a suitable boy after some time. The women of Bokaro who mostly work as midwives helped their husbands who are mostly rickshaw-pullers and work as collie, to learn at least doing signature. Now they proudly say that nobody in their group is illiterate. They are also very punctual in their activities, which is praised by all.
Sumitra Devi and Manodevi of Dhanbad admit that their life has changed considerably after joining the SHGs and Samskar Kendras run by Sewa Bharati. They not only felt the change in their individual life but also got more respect by their husbands and the society. The women of Gumla purchased foodgrains in bulk and sold it after some time, which helped them in earning good profit.
A woman of Gumla was not going to her in-laws’ house. She had the bad habit of fighting with everybody. She levelled various allegations against her husband and every time she refused to go with him. The women of SHG persuaded her husband and sent her with him. The women of Pakud district organised a mass marriage ceremony and got married 125 pairs.
Such change comes silently and leaves lasting impact. All this has been possible only due to the involvement of the Sewa Bharati workers with the projects from hearts.