Shy and poor Jhoomi Devi residing in Nimbukia Ki Dhani village under Srinagar Panchayat Samiti of Ajmer district has added her name to the list of women getting rid of their poverty after being empowered through self help groups. She has presented an example before the rest of women. Today she has proved if someone is determined, nothing is impossible.
Jhoomi Devi used to work as daily wager in Ajmer city, 25 km away from her home, and was somehow rearing her family. She and her husband used to go every morning to Ajmer and return in the evening. Out of about Rs 100 that they used to earn after back breaking labour, Rs 32 were spent in commuting to Ajmer and back. When they did not get work on a particular day, it became very difficult to meet out expenses of the family.
Then one fine day, GMVS workers selected Nimbukia Ki Dhani as their new area of intervention. They were there to organise below poverty line (BPL) women through self help groups and link them with self-employment. They gave full information about group scheme to men, old people and a few women, outlined the likely benefit that they could derive from the scheme and exhorted women and men to come forward for forming SHGs.
Initially, the villagers did not take any interest in group formation because they were not aware of the organisation's workers and felt that the group processes were quite complicated. The organisation's workers held a series of meetings with the women of the village, took them into confidence and assured them of their full cooperation in group formation process and running of the group. After an effort lasting for almost one month, Laxmi Women Self Help Group and Pooja Women Self Help Group were constituted on October 21, 2003. Both of these SHGs had BPL women as members.
Jhoomi Devi opted to join Pooja Women Self Help Group with a few of her friends. She was elected as chairperson of the group. As they had very meagre income, they started with a very small saving of Rs 20 per month per member. This was the first step towards a better future.
Initially, Jhoomi Devi used to work as daily labour. When the group was sanctioned a loan of Rs 35,000, the zeal of the group members and their faith in the organisation's workers increased. They started participating in group activities on a large scale. It was the right time to give inputs like concept of group, regularity of meetings, compulsory attendance of each member, bank linkage, continued knowledge, etc. As a result the women started treading on the path of empowerment.
Soon Jhoomi Devi started bearing all the responsibilities related to her group. Not only this, she also started motivating other women of the village to constitute group. A woman who always used to remain behind the veil and used to answer questions in yes or no by nodding her head, Jhoomi Devi can now be seen any time speaking openly on developmental and social issues of the village and the area. She represents women in all village level issues and cooperates in putting their view point before the men and the old of the village. She also extends full cooperation to the officials visiting the village and accomplishing their work.
For employment generation, Jhoomi Devi had purchased four goats by taking loan from the bank. The goats are giving decent profit to her. Both Jhoomi Devi and her husband take responsibility of looking after goats. Because of the feeling of empowerment in her and her leadership qualities, the villagers address her as Sarpanch Sahib and accord due recognition to her participation in social issues.
This birth of Sarpanch inside Jhoomi Devi has been possible only because of group. She thanks the organisation, bank and the government for this and says that her transformation has been possible only because of this self help group scheme. She said she would expand the goat rearing business to earn even more money. She appeals to all the poor women to get associated with the vocations of their liking so they can get rid of poverty and they can lead life in a dignified manner.