Kalyani is a member of Mahila Jagruti SHG under RGMVP in Masida Hamir village in Mall block in Lucknow district. I belong to the social category “general”.  I had regular education up to 12thclass. I could not continue education because there was no higher education facility in the village and my family did not want to send me to a distant place. But I completed my BA through a correspondence course.

She was married off. However, she was confined to the in-laws’ place with no permission to go out. Her husband did not have any work or any source of income. Hence, from the beginning of family life, she had great concern. Four years of uncertainty passed like this. When she had my first child (a girl), her concern doubled. She was not even able to meet the needs of the child. When she had her second child, a boy, her burden and concern increased. Shyness and household pressure prevented her from going out for some work and earn something. The tension made her sick and asthmatic. She was anemic too. She had the internal urge and wish to do some work, but she lacked the necessary information, courage and family support. She was worried about education as well as the future of her children.

It was at this juncture, RGMVP came to her village and she got the opportunity to join the SHG. The members of the group selected her as the president because she knew to write the book and minutes.  She started gaining confidence. She started having hope. However, she faced another difficulty. Her family did not allow her to attend the meeting of SHGs. However, gradually her mother in law understood her and started giving her permission to move out to nearby places for meetings. She became a sammoh sakhi helping other SHGs.

During this period, the RGMVP started implementing the Uttar Pradesh Community Mobilization Project. She got training as a community health trainer. With great reluctance, she was permitted to go up to RGMVP’s residential training center at Jais, Amethi. This was great empowerment for her. She became a resource person in RGMVP. Seeing her volunteerism, leadership quality, and communication skills, RGMVP gave her charge of Bavan block in Hardoi district. It was challenging for her. She did her work with dedication and now she is a transformed woman from somebody who had lost her identity to somebody who is recognized and respected by all. The honorarium she received for her service was great financial support for her to take care of my family. She wants to dedicate her life to this movement of women’s development in which women get identity and respect through their SHG institutions.

Ankit Kumar and P S Mohanan