In Knowing to Write One’s Own Name
Buchia Devi is the president of the federation of 15 self-help groups in her area. She had no desire to become such a leader in her village until the day she learned to write her name.
Buchia is a treasurer of one of the Self Help Groups in her village, Takurtola in Dudhyla, Shapur Panchayat. She belongs to a barber caste group. She learned to write her name from the literacy classes conducted at the centre and in the village by Archana Valiaparambil, SCN, of Navjyoti Social Centre. Though she was not very regular with her classes, once she learned the art of writing her name, she was a changed woman.
The SCNs at Shapur have been working towards organizing women to form groups for the last many years. Initially, the women reluctantly gathered. Building trust was difficult. Therefore, the Sisters begin with classes in hygiene, nutrition and general health awareness. Once the women were interested, they began literacy classes.
Buchia opened a bank account for her group with two other women. In the monthly meetings, she collects the savings from the group members. They process loan applications if there are any and give out the loan to the women in need. Some of the women use this money for cultivation. Some of the landless women take land for a price for seasonal cultivation.
Buchia is a determined woman. If any one in her group lags behind in contributing to the monthly collection, she gently encourages them to pay, explaining the need for collective saving. She also encourages the ones who take the loan to make timely payments.
The members of the self-help group respect Buchia. Regular monthly meeting takes place and when ever she calls for an emergency meeting, the women without hesitation, gather as a group.
Buchia is a shining example of someone helped by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. There are many such women who are empowered by the efforts of the Sisters in Shapur.
Written by Malini Manjoly, SCN