About CBO’s ( community based organizations) promoted and registered by WAFD and which continue the work independently.
WAFD Mahila Swavalambini Trust
The “WAFD Mahila Swalambini Trust” was started by WAFD as an independently registered community based organization in 2004, to work exclusively with women for providing access to small credit to needy women in urban areas.
Linked with regular small monthly savings of Rs 100/ per month by each of the members, the program inculcates the habit of saving among the members.
The main objectives of this Trust are:
- Providing women with opportunities for income generation activities
- Increasing their status within the family and so among the society and making them aware of their rights
- Increasing the decision making capabilities of the women
Today the WAFD Mahila Swavalambini Trust is managed by staff who were earlier with WAFD and now are part of the trust.
Case study: Story of change
Krishna the Centre Manager in Sagarpur:
It was in 1986 Krishna became a part of the women’s group organized by WAFD in its centre in Sagerpur West, Delhi. She was 26 years old then, married with 2 young sons aged 3 years and 2 years old. In the mahila mandal there used to be talks on health, child development, small savings etc. Then in 1989 there was a need for a tuition teacher to help primary school children with their homework as well as teach those children who were weak in their studies. Krishna asked to be given a trial at this. She proved to be a good and effective worker. After some time she also started taking preschool education classes . After 3 years in 1993 there was a need for a sewing teacher. So she asked to change her work to start teaching classes for women and girls in sewing and tailoring as well as knitting and painting. There was also a request for adult literacy from the illiterate women and girls from the tailoring class. They needed to know how to read, write , and do simple arithmetic so they could do their tailoring better. So the first group of 15 women and girls was started. As the need increased evening classes for adult literacy were also initiated. Self help groups for thrift and credit were introduced at this time, and Krishna was given a training in how to organize and run these. These were really successful and more and more women started to join.
As the thrift and credit program grew to nearly 1500 women members, the Board of WAFD decided to make this program into an independent program having an independent identity .So the “ WAFD Mahila Swavalambini Trust” was registered in 2004
Today Krishan is 60 years old. She is the Centre Manager of her centre in Sagarpur.
She says “ My life has meaning after I started working with WAFD , and now with the Trust. If I don’t come to work I will get sick, and will not know what to do. My husband too now respects me as he knows I can take decisions and action when needed. I am self reliant and courageous. When I had first come to Delhi my husband wanted to go back to the village and did not want to stay here. I had started going to the mahila mandal meetings I got more courage and then when I joined WAFD I told my husband that I will not go back. So he went away for 6 while I stayed alone with the children and continued working and managed to look after my children, There was no electricity connection in my house in those days and I used a kerosene lamp at night to do stitching to augment my earnings. Seeing my strong resolve my husband himself came back in 1996 and has stayed here since. He works as a security guard in a government department. I have brought a house for myself with my savings”
Swatantra Mahila Shakti
“Swatantra Mahila Shakti” (SMS) was registered as a society by WAFD in 1999 when WAFD decided to hand over the programs to the women who had been trained to implement the activities for women and child development over the years. At that time these were need based programs like pre school education, skill trainings such as tailoring, beautician, painting and knitting. Today the SMS is running 2 centres in Delhi. These centres are managed totally by them and are also self financed. WAFD only provide guidance when they ask for it.
The main objectives of the SMS are:
- To organize preschool education centres for children belonging to socially economically weak families, so as to lay the foundation for formal education
- To provide skill training to girls and women help them earn a livelihood and gain self confidence.
Over the years many girls and women have stared their own small enterprises such as beauty parlours, tailoring shops, boutiques and even tailoring at home.
Story of change
We introduce Swaraj Singh who is the co-ordinator of SMS.
Swaraj was just a young widow of 32 years with 2 young sons aged 10 years and 6 years. She managed her home and children’s education by taking up knitting and sewing from neighbours. She also took up some tuition work. In 1989 when she was 42 years she joined one of the centres of WAFD as a teacher for preschool education, tuitions classes for school children and adult literacy for a group of 20 to 25 women. These women were all married and wanted to learn reading and writing as they wanted to either write to their husbands who were posted elsewhere, or one woman also wanted to learn to sign her name and learn basic literacy so as to apply for job as an attendant in a government job. Her name Bigandevi . She got the job and is still working there. Next time we will introduce her.
Gradually over the years Swaraj’s self confidence increased, and being part of an organization she learnt to go out of her house, travel on her own, talk to people.
Today she is an active confident 68 years old, looking after the running of SMS as well as takes care of 1 centre of the “Mahila Swalambini Trust” which has 500 women members. Her two sons are now well settled as she made sure they studied well one is an engineer and the other in the USA who went there on a special fellowship for higher studies in human bio technology. He has now settled in the USA married to an Amarican girl.
She says “if I had not joined WAFD in 1989 I would still have been a small time struggling housewife, and it is doubtful if my children would have studied so much and done so well in their life. Even my lifestyle has changed as I got to see and learn more because of the opportunities I got from WAFD”
Anita Bahuguna has been a volunteer with WAFD since 2011. On being asked what made her join WAFD and become a volunteer, she says she was curious about what WAFD would do and wanted to assess her own capability — “मुझमे॑कितनासामर्थ्यहै?” Anita says that she has always been interested in the activities of both the household as well as the society at large;therefore, she enjoys her role as a volunteer for WAFD for Ranichauri. She recalls how when she joined WAFD there she faced a constant internal battle between her enthusiasm and her hesitation to speak: “I didn’t know how to speak, how to address a group. But when you are a volunteer, you have to talk to everyone. Slowly, steadily, I learnt how to talk and now I talk too much!” Anita Devi has become a well-known face in Ranichauri and the neighbouring WAFD villages. When she arranges the meetings with other women and takes us from house to house, we witness first-hand how well known and well-respected she is. In fact, some of the women who were interviewed later wondered out loud why they were being asked about WAFD if Anita Devi had already been interviewed. Anita Devi has complete knowledge of all the technologies WAFD has brought to Ranichauri and the neighbouring villages of Sabli, Jagadhar, Maun, and Dargi. She formed the Self Help Group in her village and helped the SHG get its own bank account, and she also taught the women in the group about thrift and credit. She even taught this to the women from the other villages and helped other volunteers to create bank accounts for their respective SHGs.
Anita Devi tending the ‘rai’ bed
When asked about how she has incorporated the training given by WAFD in her life, she talks about organic farming and her kitchen garden. Though she does not have a buffalo, Anita Bahuguna ensures she does organic farming and has a WAFD made organic compost basket too. She gets dung for the compost basket by bartering dry grass which serves as cattle fodder. This compost, she says, is lighter and finer than dried dung and one trip to the field with a basketful of organic compost takes care of the fertilization. This compost mixes really well with the soil and makes the soil very fertile. That is why, the crop that grows now has a bigger grain and its quantity has also doubled. Earlier, she used to add chemical fertilizers but since 2011 she has been practising organic farming and encourages others to do
the same. She grows ‘rai’, spinach, fenugreek, coriander, carrots, turnips, collocasia, etc. In her farm she grows grains like wheat, ‘jhangora’, ‘ragi’, ‘rajma’ (kidney bean), etc.
The conversation lasts a good one hour during which she talks about the village kirtan mandlis, organising trips for the kirtan mandli’s members to religious places. She also describes how the women work together and help each other: Due to less rainfall, the forests remain dry and forest fires have increased in frequency. One such fire spread to someone’s farm and all the women gathered together to put it out. They carried buckets of water and tried to put the fire out as quickly as possible without waiting for the fire department.
This is the spirit the women of Ranichuri village live with and demonstrate:They are doers, implementers, and a hard-working lot or as Anita Devi puts it, “कर्मठ”.