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Shashikala shows us how solidarity ecosystems help women thrive

Updated: Apr 11

"How do I live in the moment? I’m constantly scared of what’s to come." This used to be the story of Shashikala’s life.

Shashikala is from Hoskote village, Mandya, and works as a daily-wage coolie worker. She is a Gelathi and completed her Fellowship in January 2024. Being a part of this Fellowship was not an easy journey for Shashikala.

Before the Fellowship began, the selected Gelathis had a circle meeting to introduce each other and discuss the fellowship, but Shashikala did not attend. The Buzz Field Associate, Pavithra, kept trying to reach her but couldn’t. When Pavithra visited Shashikala at her home a day before the Fellowship began, the latter shared that her husband is a drunk and every time someone calls her in the evening, he cuts the call and gets angry with her. Pavithra informed her to attend the Fellowship the next day only if she felt safe.

Out of curiosity and the desire to not miss an opportunity that arrived at her doorstep, she attended the Fellowship. During the first two sessions, Shashikala cried a lot. She shared with the other women how much she “hates life” and is tired of the “pain” she receives. The women supported her and gave her courage. She felt like for the first time she had someone to share all of this with. It was “comforting” to be around women who understood her.

During module 3 of the Fellowship, she was required to draw her ‘model grama (village)’ and everyone agrees that Shashikala’s was the most passionate. She drew a good school, hospitals, houses that were comfortable to live in, and women who were happy. She found this exercise to be “freeing”.

For the first Beehive Meeting she organised, she went door-to-door, just like Buzz did for her, and asked women to join. She organised a game to refresh their minds, feel good, and be in the moment. Before Spoorthi, she told the Anganwadi teacher that the Fellowship terrified her because she would have to step out of her comfort zone, talk to people, and partake in activities. But look at her now - she’s organising activities for women so they can be happy and find support and comfort. “I find so much strength being with a group of women who support me. My objective is to build that ecosystem for other women who need this too.”

Shashikala has also become the village Community Resource Person after the Spoorthi Fellowship. This role requires her to support women to find loans and schemes for various reasons they may need it. She earns Rs. 2000/month from this job, although payments aren’t regular and is also saving Rs. 200/month through her SHG. She’s found herself unafraid to step out of her comfort zone. Her goal in life is to ensure her daughter gets a very good higher education and achieves things in life she couldn’t. She’s realised that obstacles will arise from this, but this way at least she’s happy.

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