Sumalatha belongs to a migrant community called Thanda. Though the community immigrated many years ago, they have never been able to mingle much with the local communities. The locals look down upon them because of incidents of theft and crime in the past. The Thanda people live among themselves without much support from nearby villages.
For Sumalatha, a 27-year-old married woman with two children, life was only about her household. She didn’t move around much out of the village. She didn’t even go out to the fields to support her husband in farming. When the Buzz Self Shakti training happened, Sumalatha found an awakening in her.
She went back home and started analyzing her life. Their entire household, of six people including her parents-in-law, is surviving entirely on the earnings from her husband’s efforts in farming. She started writing down their income and expenses and realized that with one person’s income, their lives cannot prosper. She decided to then start supporting her husband in farming. Sumalatha helped her husband to reduce losses and improve the production. With an additional hand, with a responsible person to support, the family is now able to stabilize their income from agriculture. Their income also increased to an extent that Sumalatha opened a Recurring Deposit in the local Post Office and is saving Rs 2500 every month.
Also, Sumalatha felt a strong need to mobilize her community towards financial security. She started talking to the women in the village to start a Self-Help Group. Sumalatha reasoned that as a community they have only themselves to support each other. In case of emergencies, the Thanda community does not have anywhere to go but to seek support from amongst themselves. If they want the community to support each other, they should prepare themselves for exigencies, this was Sumalatha’s rationale. Sounds logical right? But Sumalatha had to coax, argue, fight, persuade and try everything she could to start the SHG.
Her efforts finally paid off with 10 women coming forward and joining the SHG. They have registered the SHG with the government and are now saving Rs 20 per person every week. It’s a small amount, but it is a good beginning. The SHG will soon be able to avail group loans from the government. Sumalatha feels relieved that they now have a support system for them to fall back upon. And we are pleased to see how this ordinary woman stood up for herself and her community with such grace.