Faces in the Crowd – Turning Dreams Into Reality

Posted on January 19, 2017 under Faces in the Crowd with no comments yet

“ My dream is to be a small business owner. I would love to be self sufficient.”

Meet B. Krishnamma.

Krishnamma was born in the small Indian village of Chowtakunta Palli. She has two sisters and two brothers. Her father was a farmer who died in 2016. Because there were so many mouths to feed, she and her siblings could not go to school. Every set of hands on the farm was important. Hard work is all that she has known since she was a child.

She married and she and her husband, B Anjaneyulu , have two adult sons. Her husband has not been able to work for some time now because of bad knees. Krishnamma is a landless farmer, working as a labourer for other farmers. Her income is important to the family but she is quick to point out that her son, Prakash is the major bread winner in the family. He drives a tractor and his income is crucial to the family’s well being. Their other son is in the army.

She has been a member of a Self Help Group ( SHG ) for close to 15 years. “Many small villages in rural India are faced with problems of poverty, illiteracy, lack of skills and  poor health care. These are problems that cannot be attacked individually but can be better solved through group efforts. Self help groups have become the vehicle of change for the poor and the marginalized.” ( VOICE 2008 ).

People are born to be leaders and the community recognized early on that Krishnamma was the best person to give a voice to the community. For many years, she held the position as leader of the village SHG.

Just over a year ago, nine landless women formed a group with the assistance of MAS. MAS is an organization dedicated to providing technical expertise and education to groups like the landless women farmers. It was no surprise that Krishnamma was elected as group leader of Kanaka Durga Sakthi Sangham. They meet on the 23rd. of each month to discuss challenges and look for solutions. They begin their meetings with a song about empowerment. The lyrics are powerful :  “ There is light in our lives. All together we can defeat poverty. We must have unity.” Each member of the group contributes 50 rupees a month and this money is used to loan money to the poorest of the poor in the group when the need arises.

As leader of the group, Krishnamma, feels that she has gained a sense of empowerment. “ While we may be poor financially, we all feel mentally stronger and more confident due to the interventions of MAS. One of the most important things that MAS has done is to make our group aware of other programs that we can access through various levels of government. And being able to loan money to ourselves, has been the biggest change in our lives.”

Krishnamma realizes that there is a long way to go before she and other members of the group can improve their lot in life but she is confident that this will come in time. As mentioned before, hard work and determination define Krishnamma and her neighbors.

Her neighbors and friends speak about her glowingly. “ She is our leader. She is a good listener and a good speaker. She has picked up a lot of knowledge over the years which she shares with us. “ They dream some day of collectively owning their own enterprise like a flour mill.

When that day comes and they cut the ribbon to officially launch their business, don’t be surprised to see Krishnamma holding the scissors. She wasn’t able to go to school but she has been a student her entire life.

Her greatest gift to her village is her leadership.

“ Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world.” Margaret Mead

 

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