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Daughters of Bharat 
Empowering Stories of Transformation From Chhattisgarh

Phoolbasan Bai Yadav(Padmashree Awardee) at Sewa Samwaad

Summary & Key learnings

Sewa Samwaad with Phoolbasan Bai Yadav

On 24th September, Sewa International organized Sewa Samwaad

(Daughters of Bharat- Empowering stories of transformation from Chhattisgarh) with Phool Basan Bai Yadav, Padma Shri Awardee & and the force behind the creation of more than 12,000 self-help groups in Chhatisgarh. She is a social worker & founder of the NGO Maa Bamleshwari Janhit Kare Samiti. She is well known for her efforts towards the development & upliftment of economically and socially backward women of Chhattisgarh, India. The organization has since grown to cover 12000 women’s self-help groups with a reported total strength of over 200,000 members. By collecting ₹ 2 per person, the organization has accumulated a corpus of ₹ 150 million, equivalent to US$ 3 million. The participating groups engage in activities such as health programs, education, sanitation, and social reforms.

She confessed that she is not aware of big concepts, she just knows how to live. Through her immaculate efforts, 2800 children have been adopted & 625 villages have been liquor-free- this is just the tip of the iceberg of her achievements. Having witnessed poverty in its starkest form since she took a vow to feed the poor. She repeatedly said that the poor belong to none & poverty is a curse. She realised that with education comes money so she wanted to study but she could not as her father was too poor to afford education for her.

She was married at the tender age of ten & sent to her laws' place solely for the reason that it meant one less person to be fed. At one point of time, she even considered committing suicide along with her kids but the children shouted at the sight of train and did not want to die. Also, she was destined to ameliorate a lot of the society in general & women in particular. She fought back & organized a group 11 women to fight against poverty. The whole village rose in opposition against her. She said that she wanted to unify women because it is difficult to break a unified entity. She used to collect 2 Rs from each person & give 3kg rice to poor families, we stared cleaning the village & organized blood donation camps. She reminisces that when she started to get recognition for her work, she was asked to hoist the flag on 15th Aug, This very fact silenced the villagers who used to be so vocal against her. Her group also worked against consumption of liquor. She extended her gratitude to the District Collector Mr Dinesh Shrivastav who lent his support to her programs. She opined that if a woman is educated, the whole country will be educated. People complain that they don't have time for social work. Sharing her own routine, she said that she gets up around 3 am to finish her daily chores so that she can work for society. Today the women are doing practically all kinds of work in SHGs.2 -2.5 lac women are associated with her now. She does not don't ask for any help from the government.

Her main concerns are health and education. She wants women to be strong & empowered. It is very important to be in a group or organization. She told that she is never going to enter politics. The GOI talks about the Swach Bharat mission but she thinks that we need to change the perspective of the people. we make a village open defecation free in a matter of eight days. In such projects, women work as masons, they also work as farmers. The women make incense sticks out of the nirmalya offered to Gods. They also grow jimikand in barren lands so much so that they could earn Rs 5 crores. Dairy- some good work is being done here, installed machinery worth Rs 25 lakh, selling organic milk, curd, ghee, etc, they also make custard apple ice cream, pickles, wadi & papad organic vegetables, we are earning good money, we are also tackling the problem of liquor consumption. They have also made an all-women force who roam around with sticks & beat the drunkards, confiscate liquor trucks, destroy the liquor & inform the police later, She wants to realize her dream of educating the girl child. She teaches women how to protect themselves by wielding sticks. In her own words, she is a sapling who aspires to be a tree that can give shade to other women. She thinks that the people who advocate the freedom to have liquor should know their limits. In her opinion, drinking as such is not bad but it should not be at the cost of the necessary expenses of the family we do only organic farming using manure. She takes pride in the fact that the tribal women have learned how to dress properly & talk properly so much so that they can even talk to the PM now. She prefers to stay in the backdrop and push them to the forefront. About her progress from SHGs towards business, she feels that, when women step out of their homes, the mind starts functioning like a computer, one should be passionate about the work one is doing.

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