Savitri Devi, Narayanpur Panchayat (Distt Gaya Bihar)
Savitri Devi chose to leave her plush job to make a difference in her Narayanpur
panchayat in Dumariya block in Bihar. She has worked for her village as a ‘model
panchayat’ when it comes to women’s rights and the survival of daughters. Under
her guidance, her village won many awards. A member from the Narayanpur panchayat
says “It is we women who understand the basic needs of the village. We are the ones
who know the problems relating to water, the health of women and children, facilities in
schools, ration cards, roads, and so on. When a woman is a sarpanch, these problems
Savitri adds that Shakti Project from India has empowered adolescent girls and has created leaders out of ordinary girls. She greatly acknowledges the role of leadership training, career counselling and civic awareness programmes. Her panchayat was facing issues at a different level in Anganwadi centres, community library, ante-natal and post-natal maternal care. Community members had next to no reading habit and through community action group meeting conducted by Ashaa Foundation, she was able to emphasis the importance of reading books apart from their textbooks. Savitri states that the game-changer was the setting up of the community library and saw a change in the behaviour of the people.
She was striving for her community’s holistic development by raising her voice for the effective functioning of Anganwadi centres at her village and thanks Ashaa Foundation for their support. Capacity building for this Narayanpur sarpanch has supported her work towards menstrual hygiene awareness and preschool education support. Her vision and commitment for better implementation of schemes at the grass-root level are creditable.
Sonam, Block Dumaria Gaya Bihar
I could not sit for my exams in the 5th standard, I thought I will never be able to go to school again."
Sonam is currently a student of class VI at a Mission Education Center in Bihar . His father who used to work as a daily wage earner passed away when Sonam was in the vth standard. Before joining in the Mission Education center he along with his mother had to go through very hard times when his father expired and his mother did not have any money to pay the school fees and he had to drop one year. When identified by a project coordinator of the Mission Education center Sonam is a girl with little hope.
Soon after joining the center Sonam began to improve in studies, he works harder and never misses a class. He likes to make new friends and read story books. His mother now works to earn for the family and Sonam hopes that someday he will be successful and work of all those children who have to suffer like he did.
“I can’t forget the smile on her lips and tears on her mother’s eyes when the teachers told her I stood second in the class. I want to come first this year and make her only smile, no tears.”
When Sonam started to go to the Mission Education center and stood second in her class her family’s joys knew no bounds. The stories of successful people she used to tell Sonam felt like coming true when Sonam began doing well at school. Sonam and her parents are waiting for more good news to pour in when Sonam will grow up to be successful and stand on her own feet.
Poonam Manjhi,Village Madanpur (Jharkhand)
Poonam Majhi, a 47-year-old, tribal woman from Madanpur village, in Jharkhand, , lives with her husband, and her daughter. Today she works as an animator with Ashaa Foundation at a Livelihood under project Swabhiman, inspiring other women to adopt modern agricultural practices to increase their farm yield and improve their family income. However, situation was not so good always. Earlier, Poonam Manjhi, and her husband used to work as an agricultural labour.
During our interaction she mentioned, ‘It was difficult to earn enough to have two full meals those days, but I always had this dream of doing something and making a name for myself’. 2021, when Ashaa Foundation came to Madanpur village for project ‘Swabhiman’. Poonam Majhi’s zeal to achieve something and the grit and determination to work hard for it, made Ashaa team believe in her. She was selected as a women champion from her village, who will be trained by Ashaa Foundation in implementing modern agricultural practices. She became an overnight celebrity in her village, and women from all the neighborhood started asking her advice to do farming.