My name is Vidyotima. I belong to Pandey Purwa of Belawa Gram Panchayat that falls in Brahmapur block of Gorakhpur district. I am from Scheduled Cast Community (Paswan). I got married in year 1998, and since then I was not allowed to cross the threshold my house. I have spent thirteen years in Purdah and big-Ghunghat. I was restricted to speak to an unknown or out sider though he or she was known to me. Even I was not allowed to speak and laugh comfortably.

I remember the month of June-2014, when the Field Officer with his team was persuading the women of my Purwa to form SHGs. They were explaining the benefits of joining the SHG. I listened their words carefully through a window, and understood well. This idea attracted me and I asked a woman secretly and expressed my willingness to join. I gave my contribution, and joined in Durga Mahila Swayam Shahayata Samuha. But did not gather courage to go to meetings. One day a big meeting was scheduled with some out-side visitor (now I know the RPM and PM sir have to come), because I was a literate woman,  other women along with the facilitator from RGMVP invited me in the meeting and convinced my husband and in-laws. That was the turning moment of my life. Since then I slowly started participating in meetings and the In-laws stopped interrupting.

Now I am free from many kinds of ties. My SHG has a corpus of Rupees One Lakh Sixty Six thousand four hundred and Forty Four (Rs.1, 66,494). We have organized one Gram Sangathan named “Vikash Mahila Gram Sangathan” consisting twelve SHGs and one Young Women SHG. I restarted my studies and  matriculated myself last year. I took loan Five to Seven thousand twice from my SHGs for my studies.

Seeing my devotion and ability, the Pariyojana people asked me to contribute as Community Volunteer. After getting consent of In-laws and husband I started contributing. My husband was unemployed that time. Three and half years back my block became NRLM intensive block. I continued as CV and became financially stronger and managed to send my husband abroad.

Now I am free to move anywhere. I have bought a Scooty (two wheeler). I am looking after the whole Brahmapur as “Community Field Officer”. I can confidently say that I am well-versed in knowledge of running SHG, Safe Mother hoods/Neonatal/ Childhoods.

My dreams are fulfilling. Without SHGs and sensitive support this would not have been possible.

Pankaj Srivastava, February 2019