Pankajakshi is one of our Buzz Gelathis, or community leaders, from Tumkur. She was among 20 other women attended the workshop that we organized for Buzz Gelathis. The workshop was intended to help them become problem solvers in their own lives and in their communities. Unexpectedly, the workshop became a revelation to all of us, the organizers and the participants, as we saw how the conversations started unfolding. Women spoke about their everyday problems. Domestic violence, alcoholic husbands, familial expectations, physical struggles and more.
Pankajakshi quietly sat and listened to what other women spoke. She was hesitant about opening up, but she let her guard down and shared how her husband was not supportive of her at all. She said that he doesn’t encourage her and she felt stifled as an individual. At the workshop, she was asked to imagine herself as a tree and what she would like each of her branches to become. That day she went back to her house and told her husband about the tree drawing activity and told him, “I feel I’m this tree and you are stunting my growth.”
The next workshop was held slightly far from her home and our community co-ordinator, Chandru, was trying to arrange for her transportation. Chandru called on her phone to discuss this, Pankajakshi’s husband picked up the call. He told Chandru not to worry about her transport and that he will himself bring her to the workshop venue, leaving Chandru pleasantly surprised.
Pankajakshi arrived at the workshop venue along with her husband, leaving us all surprised. We curiously enquired what brought about this dramatic changed and she smilingly answered that her husband is a changed man today. We suspect that it was the ‘tree activity’ that triggered something in her and reflected on her husband, we do not know.
After the workshop, we saw Pankajakshi leave with her husband who had patiently waited for the workshop to get over. We never imagined this change. There are many such stories whose impact leave us awed – Kamalamma whose husband stopped physically abusing her, Vimala who spoke on stage for the first time, Ayesha who encouraged her daughter to adopt a baby girl and offered to take care of all her educational expenses. There is a sense of self-worth that the women discover and as their self-esteem grows, they begin to see a change in how the world treats them.
We could probably never measure such impact, but they seem to have a more inspirational impact on us than what numbers and graphs have had.