Inspirational stories told from the heart

As Head of Livelihoods for Nirdhan (Shivia India), Chandrani Banerjee is in close contact with our beneficiaries on a weekly basis.  She travels to the villages where we work to check on the progress our farmers are making and gathers hundreds of individual stories from the people she meets.  While she was in London in June attending a number of briefings with our key donors, Chandrani told of two stories that she had gathered in the week before her arrival – both of which had a profound affect on her. She would like to share them with you…

“I met Rinku last week and was very impressed with the progress she has made due to our Poultry Development Services programme. Her story just swept me off my feet. She started the poultry programme with one toolkit using a little money that she had borrowed from one of her relatives. Her husband drinks heavily and he took part of that money to buy alcohol for himself. Sadly this type of behaviour is a common occurrence in the community in which Rinku lives, where many women work as agricultural labourers for 12-14 hours a day, only to have their meagre earnings snatched away from them.  Domestic violence is also common. Today Rinku has a very well built coop for at least 50 chickens and has used her earnings to open and stock a little grocery store where she sells a few things such as potatoes, onions, sweets and women’s bindis. She has stepped up to the next level where she is an entrepreneur in the true sense and a wonderful role model for her neighbours and other women in the community. Rinku’s ascent to become a living symbol of women’s power is nothing short of astounding. Her initiative to become self-employed by raising chickens, inspired by our excellent team of Livelihood Service Providers, is something I am extremely proud of.  

I also met Anjali who is a dalit (also referred to as ‘untouchables’) by birth. So distressed by social and physical exclusion, she attempted suicide when she was just 10 years old. She was married off at the tender age of 12, faced dowry issues and suffered from domestic violence at the hands of her in-laws. Finally she was thrown out of the house. Quite surprisingly, she was rescued by her own father who took her back into his home with her husband and two children. At this point she was just 17. She went on to have two more children but, despite the support of her father, her life was not an easy or happy one and her husband did little to support her or the children. When I first met Anjali two years ago she was a completely broken woman with no self-confidence and felt she was not worthy of doing anything for herself. With our intervention and introduction to the poultry rearing programme, Anjali is now a changed woman. Today she realises that she has joined a league of successful women entrepreneurs. Once a poor housewife from a remote village, she has broken away from the shackles of poverty. Her husband now supports her immensely and together they want to build a commercial chicken farm to support the daily needs of their four children. Her aging and ailing father is extremely happy at what her family has achieved, especially his daughter who he is so proud of.

These stories are real, the success even more so. But what makes these women important, perhaps more than success, is the flame of inspiration that they ignite in the hearts of other women to break free from poverty.”


Meet some of our farmers



Kalyani is 30 and married with two children aged 8 and 10 years. She started her poultry enterprise with Shivia in May 2015 and since then…



Kamala is 36 and has three children, one of whom has a brain tumour. Her husband is a daily-wage labourer and prior to her poultry enterprise…



Akina is 50 and is married with seven daughters. She and her husband Hajrat used to work as agricultural labourers, earning about £1 each per…



Nishikanta is 45 and he registered for AMS in June 2014. He has a small plot of land, part of which he leases to another…

  • Shivia was a natural project for The Funding Network to support: a strong social change mission, with a local focus providing a hand up, not a hand out to the women and communities it works with.
    Karen Millen
    UK Operations Manager, The Funding Network
  • We were thrilled to see the impact of the work being done and to meet the team on the ground. It was truly humbling to see the difference being made to so many people by this group of highly motivated and capable people.
    Stewart Brown
    Director Artemis Investment Management LLP
  • We are excited to support such a strategically-minded and professionally run charity that is making a real and sustainable difference. The focus and design of the livelihood programmes are simple and highly effective – and the results speak for themselves.
    Lars-eric Roden
    Director, The T&J Meyer Foundation
  • Farming is my only source of income... I registered with Shivia to learn how to reduce my farming expenses and produce better quality outputs. I am definitely seeing good results compared to previous years and have learned how to make bio-pesticides.
    AMS farmer
    Familia location West Bengal
  • I cannot thank Shivia enough for giving me this opportunity. I am extremely happy that your team held my hand and provided me with excellent training to understand about raising chickens and earning money from them. I now have the confidence to carry on with my poultry enterprise on my own.
    PDS farmer
    Kolaghat location West Bengal

some of our supporters