We Will Create a Group like Honey Bees
We Will Create a Group like Honey Bees
Srimoti Lolita Rani, a 43 year-old woman laborer of Ramnager Union in Nilphamary district, has been honored as “Joyeeta” for her outstanding contribution on economic and social empowerment and volunteerism in the community in an occasion arranged by CARE with support of the Nilphamary district administration.
Srimoti was married in 1983 at the age of 13 to day labor Bimol Chandra. Now she has three children, two daughters and one son. Her 16-year-old elder daughter reads in higher secondary school, and her 10-year-old daughter, Lota Rani, is in class four. Her six-year-old son, Joyonto Chandra Ray, is going to a BRAC School.
Srimoti is a very successful woman who is providing economic support to her family of six members as well as leading extreme poor groups in her community. During discussion, she says, “I know I have changed a lot after being a part of CARE Bangladesh, particularly with SAMMOW. Before, I could never think like this. I was not confident and was scared of talking to power holders. But now I am confident in communicating with people, and I have learnt many things of which I had never heard, including women’s rights, fair wages issues and crop cultivation techniques. Because of my confidence, people don’t believe that I had little formal education.
“I have two decimals of inherited homestead and 22 decimals of leased cultivable land. On the two decimals of land, I have a separate kitchen, a room for my daughters, a separate room for cows and goats, a latrine, a tube-well, and another room for us. Along with SAMMOW volunteerism service, I am involved with vegetable cultivation, organic manure preparation, poultry rearing, wage labor selling and livestock rearing. Now I have 10 chickens, five ducks, one goat, two cows and four calves. These all are because of my struggle and inspiration from the CARE Bangladesh SAMMOW program. Just four years back, my condition was not like this. This home which you are now looking at was not there. There was no separate arrangement of living for us. We had a house made of straw with a separate kitchen which we inherited from my father-in-law, a tube-well and only two-three chickens.
“I saved money from my maid servant salary from the very early stage of our married life. Later on, I was a laborer in the agriculture fields and was involved with small scale cultivation as a share cropper. With that money, I bought ducks and chickens, paid school fees for my kids, spent on my family and set up this home. I also purchased a calf and a goat for rearing. After a certain period, I sold that cow and goat. With this money and my spouse’s contribution, I leased 22 decimals of land for rice cultivation. The project SAMMOW has also given me opportunities to serve the community through paid volunteerism. Through this, I was helping people in my leisure time, but I am now involved in these opportunities fulltime. In this way my life has become peaceful.
“I am confident that this group will survive without any support from SAMMOW. Because I nurtured it like a baby and take care of it, now this baby has started walking and will run in the near future. I have learnt the concept of savings mobilization, fair wage mobilization, nutritious food preparation and crop cultivation through the SAMMOW project. I have implemented my knowledge both in my family life and in the group. I have raised the ‘fair wage issues’ in my group. Later on, I led the analysis process to six nearby communities (para) and explored the poor situation of women agri-day laborers at the ward level as well as the union level mass gathering.
“I just love the issues we shared in our trainings, meetings and gatherings. These helped me learn so many things about life even without any higher education. I am so happy, CARE Bangladesh has gifted us a new life.
“I feel happy that all the members are doing well now. They encourage me a lot to do things for them. Whenever information comes to me about difficulties of pregnant mothers, I rush to them, observe the situation and refer them immediately to the hospital. I have a good relationship with local health service institutions and gained knowledge on family planning when I used to work with BRAC as a Shebika (community health worker). Whenever someone falls in trouble, they rush to me for a solution. I proposed a list for the government’s allowance for widows and elderly from our community to the chairperson of UP consulting our group members. He has to take it seriously because my list was too transparent and accurate. He has assured me he will issue the allowance cards to all of my listed persons. Now I am confident enough to visit the local elected bodies and talk to them. I am a member of the UP standing committee. I have a good relationship with the chairperson of the department of Women Affairs. I also resolved a domestic fight where the wife was left in her parents’ home for some time due to a family fight and the husband was not inclined to take her back. In addition, I have ensured 100% sanitation in my community.
“We should have the confidence and knowledge to communicate with people. I tell my group that we will create a group like honey bees. Our group will be a model for others. We will be the leaders like the banana tree that produces another young tree before it dies, not like the banyan tree which doesn’t let other trees grow.”
Written by Md. Mizanur Rahman, CARE Bangladesh.