Usha Devi of Sriganesh SHG, Uduva village in Jagatpur block is now an empowered lady and volunteers with RGMVP in community mobilization and women’s institution building in the block. She belonged to the Scheduled Caste social category.

She was a victim of child marriage. She was married when she was in class 3 to a known village boy by agreement.  The system was that she would join her husband when she grew up to the age of 15 or 16. Her husband had studied up to class six and subsequently started going for work as labor in a brick kiln, etc.  There was no land in the name of her husband though his parents owned land. His parents and elder brothers were cultivating the same. So labor was the only source of income for the family of Usha Devi when she joined her husband at the age of 15. In the in-law’s place, as was the custom, she was confined to the four walls.

She joined the program in 2008. She had studied up to class 8. She had stopped studies because her mother expired and the whole family burden fell on her at a young age.

After joining SHG, things started to change. Her mobility out of home increased starting with attending SHG meetings. She got encouraged to do something by herself. She took Rs 1500 from SHG as loan and purchased two goats. She took Rs. 2500 from SHG and purchased a sewing machine and started earning Rs. 200 to 300 per day by stitching clothes.

Her in-laws were having land and they acquired a tractor.  Now they did not have money for a trailer. So Usha Devi took Rs. 70,000 loan from SHG and purchased a trolley for the tractor. Sometimes her husband also started operating the tractor. With this, her role in the family became valuable and she started getting recognition and adequate share in the family agricultural produce. She then availed Rs. 21,000 loan from SHG for construction of a house with brick walls. Her next loan was Rs. 25,000, again for purchasing accessory for the tractor. She was accepted as part of the family and she was part of all important decisions. her self-esteem grew.

Usha Devi has two sons and a daughter. All are studying. She is very particular to educate her daughter. Currently, she is in class 12.  Usha Devi has risen in leadership and she is the secretary of her gram Sangathan and currently the Vice President of her block Sangathan. She is connected to the world, carries a mobile and travels on her own bicycle. She is very happy.

P S Mohanan, February 2019