Buzz Gelathi Prathima of Agrahara Hosahally
In the dusty back roads of the Malur villages, the Buzz Gelathis shape a quiet revolution
Agrahara Hosahally is not only a mouthful, it’s also a long way off from Malur. We’re going to meet Prathima, the Buzz Gelathi who had impressed the audience so much at the Women’s Day program that the Gelathis had organized and hosted last March. We’re running late. Prathima has called to check if we’re coming. We debate for a few minutes and then decide to go.
As we turn into a muddy lane, we can see the heat rise from the ground. And a lot of men. Sitting in groups, walking in groups. And then amidst the men, we catch a shade of peacock colors walking towards a lonely single-room building. Prathima hears the car, turns and waves. As we unbundle, she folds her hands in a “Namaskara” and welcomes us into the Aanganwadi center (a government run day care center for rural children).
Like Chandrakala, Prathima too was an early adopter of the Buzz Friend program. She had impressed with her skill of gathering and recording data. But she had always been reticent, someone who had to be prodded to speak. Where did that Prathima go, we wonder, as she chatters non-stop about her second outing as a Buzz Gelathi. She’s visibly excited. “The Self-Shakti program has helped the women tremendously” she gushes. “It has motivated them to think about their life goals and find ways to work towards them. They’ve reduced wasteful expenditure, they’re saving more…” her words are tumbling out and Uthara has to stop her to translate them for Dave.
“They want more now,” she says. “Do you have any other training program for us?” What kind of skills do the women want, we ask. “Something that will help them earn from home – like tailoring.” Don’t you have tailors in this village? “Yes, we do,” she says. Won’t it be counterproductive to create more tailors? Won’t we be creating a supply chain overtaking demand? Prathima’s answer is intelligent: “Even if they can stitch their own clothes, they’ll save some money…plus they’ll have a skill if they need it.” We have to agree with her wisdom.
What does she like about being a Buzz Gelathi? “You know, it was the first time that I spoke on stage during the Women’s Day event last year,” she says, her eyes shining. “And even today, when I walk on the streets, people recognize me as ‘the lady who spoke on stage’. I’m so well received when I go to meet the Buzz community. They treat me with a lot of respect,” she’s overwhelmed and the feeling quickly becomes contagious. Is there anything she doesn’t like about her role? “No,” she says quickly, “nothing. The Self-Shakti program has transformed my life so I want everyone to reap its benefits. When I came to the program, I had just lost my dad and my family was in dire straits. I had to borrow as small an amount as 10 rupees. Today, I have no loans, I’ve managed to save and I’m standing on my feet. I want the other women to experience this feeling – of earning and spending money without having to ask for it.”
What is her vision for her community? “Every poor woman should stand on her feet, she should be financially independent” she says her voice ringing with determination. And what role will she play in that vision? Then, we hear the word again: Spoorthi (inspiration). “Women need spoorthi. They need to believe this is possible. I want to tell my story to as many women as I can so they feel ‘if she can do it, why can’t I?’”
Why not organize another event to offer a platform for women like her, who want to share success stories? “Yes!” she says enthusiastically. “Let’s have another Women’s Day event this year!” And that’s how we leave Prathima – dreaming of another event, another milestone, another transformed woman sharing her story…
In Sanskrit, ‘Prathima’ means ‘reflection’ or ‘likeness’ – that’s what this feisty Buzz Gelathi has set out to do, create more Prathimas in her own likeness.