A large part of the one-room house is occupied by double bed, rest filled with an air-cooler and small TV over it. Some buckets and utensils on floor, pictures of different goddess on wall. Bed rumbled with Clothes, school bags, books and copies. Cooking is done outside in open, near which is cemented floor for washing dishes. A little distance is a cloth-veiled space, perhaps a bathroom. A beaming Suhila have brought us to show her house. The reason of her proud – It’s her own house.
Just half an hour before, Sushila Sahu was attending customer through a small opening on wall when we arrived. Shop is a lone brick structure of size 8X8 feet, covered by asbestos roof. A sewing machine kept in shop to indicating tailoring also done here. While we talked, an oblivious kid sitting at shop floor was engrossed in studies. I picked his book. It was Class 6th textbook of science, reading states of matter – Solid, liquid and gases.
As we talked, knew that sushila is married to Thakur Sahu, for 17 years. They have four kids aging 10 to 15, two of them twins. Thakur is a driver and earns little for a family to sustain. Two years back, Sushlia Joined one of our training program to learn tailoring. Then she became Member of Tulsi Self Help Group. Initially the group got credit support and amount was divided among members. Sushila bought a sewing machine with her share. That opened way of Small income by tailoring, and sushila became financially independent.
The second round of credit she started a small grocery shop. By the time second group based loan was closed, Sushila mustered enough courage to apply individual loan. She took 50,000 Rs and invested half in shop, and half in her dream.
The dream was to own a house. After wandering 17 years in here and there, changing rented rooms, her desire to own a house is understandable. The One room house was erected, just behind the shop. These 20 yards are now Sushila’s world. She runs shops, runs sewing business at same place, oversees children, their studies and her house. Her tailoring is good, cost very low hence women from nearby villages also come. Few of them have become permanent customer for grocery. So both businesses are thriving.
We talked to kids who adore their mother. Eldest Santosh and Daughter Dimpy are studying in class 9. Son wants to become police officer and daughter is determined to be engineer. Younger of twins, Manoj (the science guy) wants to become Doctor, and Mahaveer want to be same whatever manoj will become.
While every kid answered; I noticed colours come and go on sushilas face. I tried to figure her mind. Higher Education to four kids is not easy to afford. With each child shot answer to me, her brain was calculting how she will manage. Then her eyes rolled towards Manoj who was back to his book, reading “state of matter”.
And then her looks changed. I can see a pacified face. Like gases and liquid of self doubt, are getting replaced by solid determination.
We waved goodbye and left, preying silently for the solid lady.
Rural entrepreneurs nurturing programme of JanMitram Kalyan Samiti is helping people like Sushila who are landless, resource less, unskilled and not qualified. Repeated credit access strengthens their business and livelihoods. We hope that this programme will help more shushilas in coming days, to build their house, to educate their children, and to create excellent, cost effective service providers to community.