Sector: Single Women
From the day she was married off, Kaya Devi was a victim to domestic violence. Her drunk husband would often beat her until she could not stand. Kaya Devi had no one to turn to because she lived in the home of her father and mother in-law and they would always take the side of her husband. They made Kaya Devi believe that she was useless and deserved her husband’s beatings. Without telling a person, Kaya Devi continued her life and accepted her fate.
As time passed, Kaya Devi became the mother of three daughters and one son. Her husband still abused her and now started beating his daughters. Always drunk and unable to work, the family expenses could not be met. Kaya Devi’s mother in-law blamed her son’s condition on her and threw her out of the house. Unable to care for herself and her children, Kaya Devi roamed from house to house begging for money and food. She never thought that her own husband and in-laws would kick her out of her house and leave their children destitute. Depressed, Kaya Devi felt she had no reason to survive. Her children were starving and dying before her own eyes and she could not even provide them with food. She stayed in a small hut only suitable for animals. But she had no choice.
Kaya Devi’s state would soon change after a chance meeting with Dr. Kshama Metre (affectionately known as Dr. Didi). While Kaya Devi was on her way to the market, she saw a woman walking dressed in a white sari. Kaya Devi was familiar with CORD because some CORD workers lived in her village and because of the close proximity of her home to the CORD center. She had heard about what Dr. Didi was doing for people in rural villages and approached her for help. Dr. Didi listened to her story and took her back to the center. Kaya Devi’s life would never be the same. A CORD worker told her about the organization’s many Community Based Livelihood programs. Interested, Kaya Devi decided to start taking khaddi (traditional loom weaving) training. She brought the knowledge acquired from CORD back home but unfortunately did not have space in her home for a weaving loom. Kaya Devi was soon introduced to the local Mahila Mandal (Village Women’s Group) in the village. She also became a member of a Self Help Group (SHG) so she could receive financial help. Kaya Devi worked in nearby fields in order to provide for her family and slowly her economic condition improved and she was able meet her children’s basic needs. Soon, her husband and in-laws asked her to come back to their home. Suspicious of their request, Kaya Devi started planning to build a one room home. The villagers had witnessed Kaya Devi suffering all these years and wanted to help her build a home. They requested that the village Panchayat (local governing body) give her land. With the help of a SHG loan and the Panchayat, she began construction of her new home. She wanted to be able to take care of her children if conditions did not change with her husband.
Just as she had predicted, the moment Kaya Devi returned home her husband began beating her. Her children soon became victims of her husband’s wrath when they tried to intervene on behalf of their mother. The injuries of the children were proof that Kaya Devi’s husband had lost control and this forced CORD to take legal action. But Kaya Devi had no choice but to stay there so her children would be financially taken care of. The beating continued for almost two years until Kaya Devi’s house was completed. The moment it was completed she left her husband and moved to her new home with her children. She had wanted to take them out of her husband’s home and now had the opportunity to do so.
With the help of CORD she decided to start a dairy. Although a buffalo was a huge expense for Kaya Devi, she relied on her SHG for a loan to finance part of the cost. Able to buy a buffalo, she started using some of the milk and selling the rest. She was proud of her business and for the first time with her own hard work she could provide for her children. Kaya Devi’s determination to become independent paid off and she was able to buy one more buffalo and three goats. Her income increased as a result of her dairy business and she sent all of her children to school.
Kaya Devi has bravely created a new home and life for her children all by herself. Traditionally, rural women are forced to stay in their homes and they seldom venture outside of it. But Kaya Devi has proved that that need not be the norm. She does not need to rely on anyone so long as she has confidence in her own inner strength.