Just five months after joining Buzz, Radha Devi went up to Kempanna, her manager, and said she wanted to quit. Radha was completely distraught. She got one of the toughest taluks, Kunigal, to work on. We were going back to Kunigal after a break in our intervention, which made it difficult to reconnect with the villagers. The task in hand was so difficult that two earlier employees hired for Kunigal had quit within a short time of joining. The women Radha had to work with were distant and sometimes rude too. Radha was full of complaints about the job, the role, the villages. She was convinced she couldn’t bring any results from here.
Kempanna heard her complaints, but he was not ready to accept Radha’s decision to quit. He knew Radha had it in her to turn things around. For Buzz, Radha was not an ordinary employee. She is someone who underwent the Buzz training in her village. When our team visited her village, she had just relocated from Bangalore city due to Covid. Radha was working as an Editor in a local news channel in Bangalore. She and her husband lost their jobs during Covid, and they were facing the toughest of financial situations. Born and brought up in the city, Radha was also struggling to adjust to the ways of rural life after living all her life in the city. She was not able to find a job in the village as everyone found her overqualified. When she happened to attend our training, Radha was mentally stressed and financially down.
But the training triggered something in her. She desperately wanted to get a grip around her life. Radha then approached our trainer and expressed her interest in applying for a job at Buzz. She came down to Buzz’s office, impressed everyone with her communication skills and experience. She didn’t know anything about working in rural villages, but she showed willingness to learn. Kempanna remembered the spark she had during her interview and when she came down to his office saying she wants to quit, he felt Radha only needed to discover her strengths.
‘Quitting will not make you successful’, Kempanna told Radha. He encouraged Radha to give a calm thought to the situation and evaluate how she can handle it all. Radha calmed down. But she was still not fully convinced. She spoke to Buzz’s Head of Programs, Yashoda. Yashoda being Yashoda, gave Radha a rap on her conscience. “Why are you always saying things don’t work? Focus on what you can do and show the world that you can do wonders”. That was it, Radha now had a challenge in front of her. That was the beginning of Radha’s transformation.
Radha went back to the villages with renewed energy. If the women were being difficult, she was relentless. She regularly visited the villages and spoke to them. She made the women see value in the change she was talking about. They couldn’t ignore her anymore. Radha started being accepted. The community anchor programme (Gelathi Programme) saw women coming forward. More and more women started embracing change. Enrollments for our newer programmes increased too and she rose to become the best performer in her team. More than anything, in two years, Radha became a household name in over 114 villages in Kunigal!
What makes Radha’s story even more special is that while Radha was thriving in her professional life, she had to fight it out with her family to continue working. Her mother-in-law did not want her to be away from the house. Her husband was taking care of their farm and there were too many chores that needed Radha’s support. Radha said she would do it all, but not leave her job. She would finish all the household chores and then come for work. She tried to avoid all conflicts at home to pursue what gave her the most satisfaction. And at the end of the month, her mother-in-law wanted Radha to give away 80-90% of her salary for household expenses. Radha couldn’t save a single penny or spend anything according to her wishes. But she still worked, for this is her freedom.
“People from 114 villages know me by my name. They value the work that I do. They believe I can help improve their lives. Why will I leave my job and sit at home?”, asks Radha.
After two years of working at Buzz, finally Radha has convinced her family that she will keep her salary to herself. She wants to save for her children, for their education. The family also now understands her work, and we’re sure they secretly take pride in the changemaker that Radha has become.