There’s a saying that goes by – “If you want God to help you, you must help yourself.” Chandrakala of Duvari village followed this saying and changed both the fate and conditions of her family.

Chandrakala is a member of Jai Bajrangbali self-help group in Duvara village of Betua block, district Amethi. She joined the group in the year 2012.

Chandrakala’s life was full of hardships and social constraints. She came from an underprivileged category of OBC, like most in her community she is illiterate.

Loaded with social burdens and the deeply rooted patriarchy, she like many other women were confined to the four mudded-walls of her house. She lived in a small kuccha house. The financial conditions of her family were miserable, she did not have enough money to send her children to school. It was a hand to mouth situation.

In the year 2012, Chandrakala saw a ray of hope, when she saw women in her villages form SHGs. Curious by nature, she enquired about it and decided to be a part of it. That’s when things started changing in her life.

7 years into the SHG, she gained a lot of knowledge on various issues of health, livelihood, and agriculture. She learned about maternal, neonatal health and nutrition, Different techniques used in agriculture like SRI, SWI, 18 days Compost and Informal Seeds. Apart from all these, she also learned about her rights and entitlements. She also learned about financial inclusion and its importance.

That’s when Chandrakala started taking the process of inter-lending. She took money from her SHG on various accounts and invested in livelihood activities.

Rs 16000 for setting up a Kirana shop

Rs 4000 for daughter’s education

Rs 5000 for daughter’s baby shower

Rs 10,000 for daughter’s wedding

Rs 15000 for opening a ration shop

Rs 6000 for other family purposes

Leaving the past behind, Chandrakala whose life earlier was only subjected to the household chores has now transformed herself and emerged as a forerunner of radical transformation.  She supplements her family earning. She has a pucca house of her own. She is now one of the pioneer women, who is both empowered and independent.

“It is during adversity that you realize who your true friends are, and for me, it has been my self-help group.”

Nilesh Jain and Sara Saad