Four months ago, our Sakhi programme reached out to Narpat Ki Khedi, a small village with a conservative, male dominated society.
Like most villages of Rajasthan, men of the community here were engaged in agricultural and labour work while women stayed at home and do household chores.
Lack of awareness and illiteracy are major significant hurdles of the village. Therefore it was challenging to convince women and their families to form Self Help Groups.
Praveena’s story is similar to many others of her village. A Bachelors of Arts graduate, she wanted to be a teacher but unfortunately she was married off at the age of seventeen. Post marriage she was confined to her home, and not allowed to step out. She realised that her education was of no use. Her husband Durga Shankar is a farmer with 2.5 Bigha land and works part time as a wage labor. Praveena has three children – two girls and one boy. Her elder daughter studies in class 10. Her son is in class 8 and the youngest girl is 3 years old.
When we started the Sakhi programme in her village, Praveena was amongst the first who came forward and became a member of Sawariya Self Help Group. She was among the few educated women of the village and the only literate member of the SHG. She said, “when i saw that all the women here use their thumb impression instead of signing, it used to make me very sad. I used to feel helpless…”
Praveena decided to provide primary education to all illiterate women of the community so that every woman can learn to sign on their own.
She requested all the members of the group to stay half an hour extra so that she could take basic education lessons.
Earlier it was tough as no one was interested in investing extra time and learning as well. But with the help of Sakhi and regular counselling, gradually women agreed to give extra time and started learning.
She told us with pride & a spark in her eyes that today six women of the group had learned to sign. This has inspired other women also to join her class to learn.