Sector: Community Based Livelihood (Farm)
Unable to read and write, Roshni Devi of Chahri Mohalkar felt helpless in her in-laws home. She was prohibited from going anywhere without their permission and was a slave to their demands. Day after day she served them and made sure they were taken care of. Roshni Devi’s family was very poor and lived off of the wages they made from doing daily work in the fields. Roshni Devi wanted some say in the affairs of her family but was given no voice.
After meeting CORD workers Satya, Urmila, and Kaushalya, Roshni Devi came to learn about the organization and its programs. She realized that many women were in the same situation she was in and decided to join the Mahila Mandal (Village Women’s Group) in her village. This forum gave marginalized women the opportunity to voice their concerns and come together. Soon, Roshni Devi was elected President. Under her leadership, the Mahila Mandal flourished and women felt comfortable discussing any issue. Because Roshni Devi was so well respected in her community, she did not have a difficult time gathering the women. Even though Roshni Devi was illiterate, she motivated the group with her words. Her strength was an example for the women and her story made them feel that they too could improve their condition.
Although Roshni Devi was smart and capable, she did not have a penny of her own savings. She had some knowledge of farming and cultivated the fields near her home. Satya encouraged Roshni Devi to get specialized training. After coming into contact with CORD, she learned about sustainable farming practices and crops she could grow for money. Several times she came to the CORD center for livelihood training without fearing that her family would reprimand her. Nothing could stop her now because she wanted to progress and improve her living conditions.
After receiving training she became confident in her skills and started practicing many of the schemes she had learned. Roshni Devi started by taking a loan from her SHG and making a polyhouse (also known as a greenhouse) near her home. In the polyhouse, she produced several types of vegetables like lady fingers, eggplant, tomatoes, ginger, cauliflower, and radish. Using only natural methods and fertilizers like biocompost and vermin compost she continues her work. Today, she has cultivated a significant amount of land, and maintains an orchard of over thirty trees including mango, pumpkin, guava, leechi, and kathal (jackfruit). Roshni Devi finds the peace and quiet of her orchard a comfort and a complete change from the life she used to live.
Once dependent on her husband and family, Roshni Devi now provides food and income for her family and fellow villagers. Her farming endeavors have become a family affair. Her husband also works on the land after coming home from his job with the Public Works Department. Roshni Devi’s son, with the help of a loan from the SHG, bought a vehicle and transports the produce to local markets. Villagers even come to her home to buy her fresh vegetables. Now, she is viewed as an important member of her family and has been given a voice to help make family decisions. Roshni Devi continues to educate herself on the most up-to-date farming methods. CORD workers frequently visit her land and advise her on ways to improve her crops. She has progressed as a result of her self motivation and inner desire to change her situation.