Inspirational stories told from the heart

As Head of Livelihoods for Nirdhan, 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.”

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