Community institutions: A powerful means to Quest Fulfillment
Mani Kerketta was leading a good life. Yet, she had a burning desire to find herself that she did with courage and conviction.
In the market area of Tero village of Bero block, one can easily spot Mani didi’s tailoring shop. Mani Kerketta, who is in her early thirties, greets everyone with a bright smile when they come to her shop. She has proved that by sheer courage and determination, one’s life could be positively turned around. It was the perseverance and unshakable determination of Mani which has led her to where she is today.
Life was not hard for Mani and she had enough resources to sustain her family of 8 members. However, Mani constantly felt a deep void within. This feeling was the result of her lack of identity, self-reliance and self-respect and it increasingly got intensified.
She finally joined Aarti Mahila Samuh in 2015, however, the road to her empowerment was not easy. Despite Mani always being committed to her family, her desire to become self-dependent was incomprehensible to her conservative husband. She was stopped from going to Sakhi Mandal meetings or gatherings. But Mani was not willing to give up on her quest and gathered courage one fine morning to rebel against her family’s diktats. She stepped out of her household to attend a Sakhi Mandal meeting and since then there has been no looking back for her.
She became a regular at the Sakhi Mandal meetings and recognizing her active participation she was chosen as Active Woman after a formal training. Later, she was chosen as an ICRP. Her most notable achievement came after the commencement of JOHAR project, when she received training and started participating in drives to motivate rural women to form PGs.
Sharing her experience, Mani says, “Through such drives, we not only get economic support but also opportunities to meet our fellow sisters. It is also an opportunity for us to learn from each other and it fills us with a sense of togetherness.”
Mani didi gets Rs. 500 per day for such drives. Apart from this, she owns a tailoring shop which she got renovated after taking a loan from her Sakhi Mandal. She bought two sewing machines and her shop is contributing well to her overall income. As she is earning well and has become successful, her family’s attitude too has become positive towards her. Most importantly, her husband’s approach towards her has completely changed. Besides supporting her in the shop, he also takes care of their children whenever Mani goes for drives.
Mani Kerketta has finally found the identity she long wished for. She has become financially and socially empowered. Now, she is able to take care of her family and has the support of her family members, especially of her husband. In addition, she is helping other women of her village by providing them work in her tailoring shop and also encourage them to adopt viable livelihood sources.
In her words, “If NRLM had not been there in my life, I would never have been able to stand with such pride and dignity. I might have to depend on others for my everyday needs too. It really feels good when I take responsibility of the family’s needs. The recognition and respect that has come my way is overwhelming.”