Faces in the Crowd – The Seeds of Success

Posted on December 8, 2016 under Faces in the Crowd with 2 comments


M. Sujata

“ My dream is to someday be able to purchase an acre of land which I can call my own.”

Meet M. Sujata

She and her two siblings were born in Sampalli, India. The family were farmers and owned three acres of land and a couple of cows. She attended school , completing the seventh level but that was the end of her education. Her parents couldn’t afford to send her to another village. She was very disappointed that she couldn’t further her studies. Her dream had been to graduate and get some kind of government job that would provide a steady income and security for the family.

She spent the next few years helping around the house and the farm and at the age of 16, she married , which was not uncommon at the time. Today the minimum age to get married for a girl is 18 and a boy, 21. Her husband is a tailor and alternates his time working on the road and from home as well. The couple have two daughters, ages 9 and 11. Sujata feels that education is crucial if her girls are going to make a better life for themselves. Once they reach the 10th. level, in all likelihood their formal schooling will end,  as the cost to continue would be prohibitive.

These days, Sujata spends her days as a laborer on farms. She is considered a “landless” farmer and is subject to the whims of the market and her employers. Currently, with tomato prices very low, she has no work and worries daily about how to make ends meet.

In 2012, through the auspices of APMAS, Sujata and ten other women formed a group. The objective was to provide them with some of the tools necessary to improve the quality of their lives. The hope was that this would empower the women to take charge of their own affairs. To that end, they started a regular savings program of 50 rs ( rupees ) a month each. Now, when a member of the group needs financial assistance, they can borrow from the fund.

Sujata is quick to point out that MAS ( formerly APMAS ) has been instrumental in giving her new found confidence. She is the elected leader of the group and is no longer intimidated when she goes to a bank, a government office or to her children’s school. “ MAS has made a big difference for me personally and for the group as a whole. They have provided us with knowledge and also practical things like seeds for crops.”

But life is still very challenging. While she enjoys being the spokesperson for her fellow farmers, she is constrained by the practicalities of everyday life. “ It is hard for me to take time away from work and I want to spend as much time as I can with my daughters.”

With the seeds of knowledge, she has become a potent spokesperson for other women farmers. But more importantly, she is a strong voice for her daughters.

There’s  an old saying that says, “ reap what you sow.” Sujata is hopeful that she is planting the seeds of success for her family and her community. The yield should be impressive.

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