Choti Kumari Singh, 20, from Bihari, has won an international award for her work to uplift the Musahar community, considered one of the most downtrodden in the state’s caste-ridden society.
She won the Women’s Creativity in Rural Life Award from the Switzerland-based Women’s World Summit Foundation, PTI reported.
Choti is the youngest person to win the Rs 65,000 (approx) award since it was instituted in 1994. It honours women across the world for their commitment to improving the quality of life in rural communities.
So, what did she do?
Among the many problems that mostly landless labourers of the Musahar community face are poverty and illiteracy. Child marriages also cripple them.
Choti helped with social and educational work among Musahars in her village of Ratanpur in 2014. This was after she joined a programme run by the Mata Amritanandamayi Math, which adopted 101 villages across the country with the aim of making them self-reliant.
When the programme began in Ratnapur in 2014, she started to offer free tuition classes to the children after school hours
“It was a herculean task to bring Musahar children to the classes because their parents did not show the slightest interest in educating them. I went door to door gathering children and trying to convince the parents, Choti told PTI.
The tuition classes, which had more than 100 children, was a huge success – no small task when that number makes up one-tenth of the village’s population.
Initially, the Musahar villagers were hostile, says Choti. They drank, gambled and verbally abuse her. However, once they began to see positive changes, the situation became relatively favourable, Choti recalls.