- Beema Ram : Goat herder by day, honey collector by night While his younger siblings are at school, it’s Beema Ram’s job to herd the family’s goats. A new government school has opened up nearby in recent years, but when Beema Ram was growing up there was no school.
At 18 years old, Beema Ram takes great pleasure from the peace and solitude that his life as a goat herder brings, but realises what he’s missed out on. A goat herder by day, Beema Ram transforms into a honey collector by night. As a honey collector he works in a team of five, who identify the hives and go at night to climb the trees and harvest the honey. Besides the enjoyment of being a part of his five-man honey-collecting team, Beema Ram can now help support his family. Change Alliance partner Smarthak Samiti (SS) provides forest honey producers with protective clothing, as well as identity cards which help protect the team from harassment by forest officials. SS also helps them organise into a collective to package, market and receive a fairer, well-earned price for their honey.
- Seva Bai : Literacy brings more freedom than ever before Member of Change Alliance partner Single Women’s Association (SWA) Seva Bai, 38, attends a meeting at ASTHA’s learning centre in Udaipur, Rajasthan.
Seva Bai’s sister could not bear children, so her family offered 15-year-old Seva Bai to her sister’s husband as a second wife. Three years later, with one small child and a second on the way, her husband died in a car crash and Seva Bai found herself an 18-year-old widow. Forced to remain in the house and to wear dark clothes, a prisoner in her own home, Seva Bai felt her young life to be over before it had even begun. Participating in SWA meetings has given her the strength and confidence to live a full life, and new reading and writing skills thanks to SWA literacy classes bring more freedom than ever before.
- Hansi Bai : More opportunities, more earnings Devla, Udaipur District, Rajasthan. Women from a Samarthak Samiti (SS) established SHG (Self Help Group) meet at the modest home of their president, Hansi Bai, 50.
Change Alliance partner, Samarthak Samiti (SS) provides forest honey producers with protective clothing, as well as identity cards which helps protect the team from harassment by forest officials while collecting honey in the wild. Adivasis continue to be denied access to forest areas and produce in spite of the Forest Rights Act, which protects access rights. SS also helps them organise into a collective to package, market and receive a fairer, well-earned price for their honey. ‘Employment is a big issue here, sometimes we migrate to big cities but even there we don’t find work’ says member Hansi Bai. As president of this SHG group she pays the honey collectors and organises the women in her group to process and package the honey, which is then sold at a higher price. Hansi Bai’s SHG also runs a loans scheme, which she has used to buy and rear livestock such as chickens. This year, Hansi Bai whose main income is through agriculture, earned twice as much as from farming alone thanks to her part in the honey processing and packaging, as well as rearing and selling of chickens.
- Theresa Baskey : Towards a better life through education ‘As soon as I think of the positive influence I’ve had on my students my tears fall; tears of joy.’ Theresa Baskey is 35 years of age and is another of CA partner Sona Santal Samaj Samiti’s (SSSS) dedicated teachers.
Theresa’s mother was determined that her daughter got an education despite their poverty, and a lack of importance placed on education within their community. Theresa’s mother got to see her become a teacher with SSSS when she was just twenty years old; in that same year she passed away, having seen her dream for her child realised.
- Najbun : Future head of her village Najbun lives in a small village called Kajha Kothi in Bihar’s Purnia district. Being a mother of nine children she found it hard to make both ends meet.
While she stayed on in her village with her children, her husband migrated out to earn a living. Being a daily wager she had to face many hardships, but then a big change came in her life when CA partner ANHAD opened a vocational training centre in her village in 2009. Ever since Najbun joined the centre she does not have to work in the sun anymore and thanks to Dhaani (a project of CA and ANHAD), she can take care of her family and spare some time for the welfare of her village as well. It will not be a surprise if she becomes the head of her village sometime in the future.