A Housewife to a Community Leader: Hemant Bai’s Inspiring Tale

In India, poverty is closely linked to low agricultural productivity. A huge chunk of the rural population in the country depends upon agriculture as the main source of their income. However, unequal distribution of resources leads them to the vicious cycle of low income, low savings and low investment. Lack of access to resources plays a major part in perpetuation of rural poverty.

This is the exact trap in which Hemant Bai and her family was caught in 2014. Hemant Bai was a 31 year-old BPL woman living in Bappawar cluster, Sangod block, under Kota district of Rajasthan. She owned no land to do farming, neither did she have any other source of livelihood. Her husband worked as a labourer on fields of large farmers to make ends meet. Hemant Bai always felt guilty that she couldn’t help her husband financially and increase the income of her family.

Thankfully, when Hemant Bai got to know about Self-Help Group program, she decided to join it and became a Community Resource Person (CRP). Joining the SHG in her village not only improved her financial condition, but also gave a sense of purpose to Hemant Bai’s life.

Once she had established herself as a capable CRP, she began her quest to succeed in agriculture. In July 2016, Hemant Bai took a loan of Rupees 20,000 from the SHG and rented 5 bighas of land from a local landlord. In the first year, Hemant Bai and her husband sowed soya bean and mustard, which earned them a good profit of Rupees 20,000. Once they saw their efforts becoming successful, her husband decided to stop working as a labourer and focus on doing agriculture on rented land.

Being a part of the Cluster Level Federation (CLF), Hemant Bai approached it before taking her decision to rent land for the next season. The CLF advised her to go ahead with renting more land and assured her that she will get assistance at every step. Qualified staff guided her by providing her the best practices to follow. Under the guidance of her CLF, she used deep tilling in summer, used good quality seeds bought from Cooperative Society and used organic pesticides to record a good produce with minimum input cost.

Her work has enabled other women also in the area to transform their lives and rise above poverty through their association with the SHGs. Acknowledging her efforts, the CLF has promoted her to Cluster Coordinator to manage all CRPs working at SHG level. In a few years, the village has seen her transform from a housewife to a capable leader in the society. Her field of work has expanded beyond her household. Now she works across villages to develop women leaders so that they can carry the light of development forward. Even though she struggled as a housewife initially, Hemant Bai has now truly emerged out to be a community leader.