Despite All Odds, She Started An Atta Chakki (Flour Mill) In Her Village
Jun 14, 2023
Seema Bheel is a determined 30-year-old woman from Shivpura village. She was born into a poor tribal family and experienced years of oppression and neglect because of her caste and background. She said, “I wanted to be treated as a human being rather than as a poor Dalit (low caste) girl.”
The Situation Before:
The village is inhabited predominantly by the Dalit community and means of livelihood are scarce. Her husband earns about Rs. 3,000/- a month as a daily wage laborer. However, this is not enough to meet the needs of the family.
For the last ten-fifteen years, no PRI leader or local authority member had entered the village. Most of the villagers did not even have primary amenities like safe drinking water, electricity, transportation, roads, sanitation, etc
The Journey Begins
Sakhi, a project that works for the upliftment of the poor in the various districts of Rajasthan targeted its interventions in Shivpura village. The local Community Resource Persons (CRPs) and local staff mobilized women and facilitated the formation of Self Help Groups.
The platform encouraged Seema Devi to not only actively participate in the SHG meetings but also gave her a platform to discuss social and personal issues. She started understanding the benefits of an SHG, learning the importance of saving and credit, and realizing that she can make a positive change to help her family and community.
One of the issues that were highlighted was the difficulty for women in grinding four manually as there wasn’t a single flour mill in the village. Seema took the initiative to open her flour mill and alter the plight of women. Her SHG had managed to save Rs. 10,160.00 within 11 months. She borrowed Rs. 10000 as a loan to start a small Flour Mill (Aata Chakki) in her house.
Seema along with a Samuh Sakhi (the group leader who is nominated by the SHG) prepared a list stating the various issues at the village level. The women leaders decided to convey the village problems to the Sarpanch of the Gram Panchayat and other local authorities.
Seema Devi was the first woman in her community who came forward and joined a self-help group. Nostalgically she shared her experience “The name “Self Help Group” attracted me a lot. It was the first time when I felt welcomed into a group; it was a place where I felt equal to other women.”
With a smile, she said, “Life has changed drastically, from a woman who was insecure, hesitant, and always tried to hide her identity, to the confident person I have become today.”
Seema Devi was encouraged by her fellow SHG members to contest for elections, after seeing her leadership skill. She wishes to pursue her dream of becoming a Sarpanch.
Despite all odds, she started her own business and installed an Atta Chakki (Flour mill Machine) in her village. This initiative helped her earn 3500-4000 rupees monthly, improving her family’s financial position considerably. She also eased the problem of other women in the village who had to manually grind grain in the absence of a flour mill.