I 257. (August 17, 2019) : Balmita – True Independence :

For the poor women of villages, true independence is when they come out of the burden of poverty. Smt Balmita Bahan Rajapur Himmat of Lambhua block in Amethi is an example. She belonged to a very vulnerable family. Her father in-law was the patient of  chronic disease. The family had spent about Rs 80,000 for his treatment. Even he was taken to the SGPGI, Lucknow but succumbed to the prolonged illness.

Balmita stayed 6 years with her parents as no one in the husband’s family liked her and her husband was working as Mistri in a Garage in Mumbai. Her family got separated from her husband’s joint family without receiving their land share. She started living in thatched hut. She went to Mumbai with her husband and took gynecological treatment there. God blessed them with two girls. She came back to her native place after some time. There was no one in maternal family. They got some land there. Though Balmita’s should have had the share of that land, even after intervening of Balmita Bahan, her husband didn’t listen to her. He took no action and they got no share from that land also.

Balmita behan had keen desire for higher studies, but poverty and other compulsions did not allow her to fulfill her dreams. Some how, she could pass tenth class before marriage. She always wanted to talk to others, to go to new places, to understand current affairs and acquire new knowledge, but circumstances did never allow her. One day, Sheela Bahan, a community resource person from RGMVP went to her house in the absence of other family members as husband was in Mumbai and father in law and mother in law were in agriculture field. Balmita behan understood all the benefit of SHG at once, because she was already waiting for auspicious event like this and finally she joined Mahak SHG, Ekta VO of Jeevan Sathi BO Lambua block under CRDC Amethi. Since she was high school pass, women chose her as the treasurer in SHG. Office bearer designation made her very happy. Many times, she tried lot to convey massage about her joining SHG to her husband but whenever, she tried to start telling, her husband intervened in middle and said you should not join it.

“One day, while my husband was in the house, Sheela behan, Community leader came to my house and asked about SHG register because being a treasurer, I used to keep records in my house. That day, her extreme faith in SHG had given her tremendous power to face her husband and she openly informed her husband about her SHG. Husband asked her about why she joined SHG even after he refused.
I replied, that I had my personal diary in which all savings were entered. Mostly monthly saving had been done from money gifted by my mother and some monthly saving I did from the money, which was sent by you. Husband got convinced. I asked him whether he had any such savings? He did not have any answer.

From that day, her husband started believing in SHG. She has accessed multiple loans on different occasions:
1. Rs 1, 000 for petty shop.
2. Rs 5, 000 for Agriculture inputs.
3. Rs 10, 000 for self education, prior to SHG, she was only tenth passed now she is graduate.
4. Rs 20, 000 for treatment of her husband.
5. Rs 10, 000 from VO for the treatment of her husband.
6. Rs 20, 000 from two other SHGs namely Puja and Ganga for her husband’s treatment.

Because of her SHG, her husband’s life is saved. She fulfilled her dream of education, Prior to SHG, she was tenth pass but now she is a graduate. In the family, she takes part in every decision making process. She worked in different capacities as ISC,CRP, PIC and CRDI in RGMVP (various cadres of voluntary leadership). She formed 135 SHGs in Bhiyamawa block of Ambedkar Nagar. She made two piles of Berkeley compost and used it in her cultivation, other women made 15 compost piles after motivation by her. She transplanted 10 biswa paddy in SRI method. Still she is giving handholding support to other poor women. She has rich knowledge on health and agriculture. Her both girls are going in class 4 n 5 in good school. Because of SHG, She has taken her land share from her own family. Now she has one bigha of land. She has taken her share in home also. This all happened due to SHG. SHG has given power to raise voice for getting  her entitlement. Her next dream is to make her both daughters a teacher and a doctor respectively. She said that SHG was the only way for making life of poor beautiful, respected and dignified.

K S Yadav, August 17, 2019