The Joy of Being Independent-Story of Anjali Das
“I never thought I could come out of this cycle of insufficiency and poverty. But today I am happy, at peace and filled with hope for the future…” says Anjali Das, one of our beneficiaries from DBSS Barrackpore.
Anjali Das is from Kalmikhali village under Bishnupur-1, Andermanik Gram Panchayat in West Bengal. Her husband, Manoj Das, works as a daily-wage labourer. They have two sons. For a very long time, the family faced issues of insufficiency in the household income to sustain the family of six which also includes Anjali’s father and mother-in law. Her husband’s income was not enough to take care of the family’s basic needs; children’s education, savings and family’s medical care. During one of the Anganwadi’s monthly check-up, Anjali’s two sons were found to be malnourished. Eventually, Anjali had to start working as a domestic helper/house-maid to support her husband and contribute towards household expenses. They had to manage all their expenses within a meager income of Rs.45,000-48,000 in a year (Approx. Rs. 5000 per month).
With the intervention of DBSS Barrackpore at their village, Anjali joined the local SHG formed by the DBSS to support the women in the village. Anjali discussed about her problems & difficulties with DBSS team and the desire to do a better job which would help her earn a better income. DBSS team advised her to take loan from her SHG and start a local business of making flower garlands which is high in demand in the local market. This would act as her alternative livelihood too. When her small business expands, she can leave her house-maid’s job and continue with her flower garlands’ business. This would also prove to be a better and a dignified job, than working as a housemaid for which she had always been apprehensive.
DBSS team then introduced her to Rina Pandit, who is a seasoned flower decorator and has an established flower decorations business in the village. Anjali worked under her tutelage for at least 4 months before she initiated her own small business. Gradually she set-up her business and began earning an additional income of Rs.2500 to 3000 per month. She bought a stock of open flowers in wholesale at a cost of Rs.2000 and sold them with a profit of Rs. 1000 each month. Besides this, she also attended a skill training on mat-making, organized by DBSS and invested some money in order to make mats and began earning Rs. 4000- 5000 per month through it.
Her household income is now Rs.90,000, which is 40% more than what they were making earlier in a year. At present, Anjali has a much more stable and happy life. With the profit she made, she saved some for reinvesting in her business and rest she used on house repairs and for buying few household items like Television, Fridge etc. which earlier they could not afford to buy. As a family, they also enrolled themselves for a Govt. medical insurance which demands an affordable premium each year. With better income they have introduced fruits and vegetables and good protein sources in the diet of their children to ensure good health.
At Kalmikhali village, other women like Anjali are also coming forward to support their families financially. With support of SHG and linkages with banks along with regular skills training by DBSS Barrackpore, the women are becoming confident and learning new trades for their bright and sustainable futures.