Bhumika works closely with self help groups. She talks about the story of success that she has encountered with Sami Devi.
She cannot give birth to your baby, so why don’t you re-marry to get a successor.
When these kinds of statements come from relatives and neighbours, people who are supposed to be a woman’s friends, her plight is beyond tragic . Mrs. Sami Devi from Palesar, a village of Kotra, shares a similar story. Except hers is a story of courage, beyond everything else.
She married Lakshman in 2003, who was a tailor by profession. After some years of marriage, he worked as an instructor of Seva Mandir’s (an NGO in the area) non-formal education centre for 6 years. After this he started a kirana shop in Kotda market. In the midst of all of this Sami Devi joined a local Self Help Group which has been renamed in the year 2014 as Shiv Parvati SHG. The members of the group currently save Rs. 100 every month.
Sami Devi seemed to be entrepreneurial from the beginning, but it was after becoming a member of the SHG that her financial understanding grew exponentially. She persisted in the goal of bettering her husband’s and her situation, even while being criticised for not being able to conceive a child. She took to visiting many doctors, where she found out that her inability to become a mother was due to a tumour in her uterus. As the pain, both physical and emotional, became part of her life, she started the kirana shop in her own house with the support of her husband in 2006 with Rs. 1,500 (Rs. 500 from husband’s savings and Rs. 1,000 as a loan from the SHG). After she returned the first loan, she started taking small loans from SHG and every month returned the fixed installment with interest.
The loan size grew slowly and so did her paying ability and confidence. Thus, she expanded her business slowly.
Today the kirana shop is much more than a small store for groceries. You can find cosmetics and other fancy items also included. Sami Devi has also started selling vegetables like tomatoes, eggplants, cabbages, garlic, and onions. She grows all the vegetables in her farm around her home. The idea of expanding her business grew with the exposure she got when she went to the nearby markets of Khedbrahma and Udaipur with her husband to buy material for his kirna shop. She earns about Rs 1,000 daily.
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She and her husband have a very good partnership in their personal life and in their work. They work together in their farms, for buying items for both their shops, supporting each other in their work. Her dedication and hard work made her financially strong and also improved the living standard of her family. She also managed to treat herself for the tumor, and has given birth to twins in 2009. The home is a happy one, with comforts such as electricity and a gas connection – signs of prosperity in the community. Now she is planning to buy a refrigerator next. Sami Devi now lives happily with her husband and 2 daughters.
When I asked her if people still asked her husband to remarry, and if yes, what is his reply, she said “vo bolte hai jo kaam karne me maza tere sath ata hai to nai ayega kise aur ke saath.” (The kind of contentment I get working with you, I won’t get that with anyone else.”
This story is my favorite, because in tribal India, where you find a lot of social inequality, discrimination and violence, you also find people like these, working hard and living peacefully. Needless to say, this story gave me a lot of peace and motivation.
To know more about the work done by Seva Mandir in Rajasthan, click here
To read more about the stories from the field by the India Fellow program on The Better India, click here
Photo credits: www.thefreedictionary.com/darkmoon
Bhumika is an India Fellow from the 2016-17 cohort.