Maya is a successful woman of Hardeo Baba SHG in Maulvi Khurd village of Bahadurpur block in Amethi district. Her family was the poorest in the village. They did not have any land for cultivation. The family had 7 members. She belonged to the social category Scheduled Caste. Maya used to face lot of caste discrimination before joining SHG. After joining the SHG about eight years back, the discrimination ended totally. She started feeling confident and equal to everybody else. Though she used to participate in the internal lending program of the group for small household requirements, her major courageous decision was to take three biga land on temporary pledge from another villager by availing a loan of Rs. 50,000 from her group. She started cultivating the land. The transition from a labourer to a cultivator was highly empowering process. This happened three years before.  From the surplus income generated out of cultivation of the land, Maya purchased one milch buffalo for sale of milk. Thereafter, from the surplus of these two income generation activities i.e. cultivation and sale of milk, Maya has constructed a pucca house with three small rooms. Previously she was living in a thatched house with mud walls. She has since repaid more than 50% of the loan.

A lot of transformation has taken place in the standard of living of the family members. Though Maya was educated only up to 5th class, her SHGs and federations gave her opportunities to experience equality and self-help, and to learn agricultural practices and health tips, all through RGMVP’s learning and capacity building processes. She is sending her three children to school. Her husband is also hardworking and takes much interest in cultivation. Both have now developed a progressive mind and are confidently looking at the future. They feel that they are out of poverty and never get back in to that vicious cycle.  Maya gives whole credit of her happiness to her SHG. She says, “I have gained recognition in the society because of my group which is running well”.

C S Pandey and P S Mohanan, January 2019