Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

SHGs formed by Sreema Mahila Samity

Posted by Chris on October 18, 2007

Talking to the women of Bishti SarnibharThe SMS staff took us out to a village where two SHGs gathered at one home to meet with us. I will briefly describe each and then contrast them because I think that will be very enlightening and perhaps a bit surprising.

First we spoke with Bishti Sarnibhar, which means ___. It was formed in July 31, 2006 and has 11 members. Each member saves Rs 30 per month and the group has a total of Rs 4600 saved. 10 of the 11 members have taken internal loans from the SHG savings to support their various businesses (they told me at least 12 different kinds of businesses they were operating).

The second group formed November 6, 2006, and chose the name Rupali Sarnibhar (Rupali = “silver-y). There are 12 women in this group. Each member saves Rs 20 per month and all have taken internal loans. They mentioned five different businesses they operate, including several which I have heard any other women SHG members operating (owning a dairy cow, selling brass utensils).

Bishti was one of the happiest bunch of people I have ever been around, especially three who seemed to be the youngest that were sitting in the front and doing most of the talking. I think this happiness was in part just a natural part of their character. But it also helped that they felt that they “have everything they need”; have expanded their businesses and constructed homes; and can “provide nutritious food” for their kids. Also, all said that they had good husbands who help with some of the household work, enabling them to work at their businesses.

Rupali was quieter, more reserved, and several times said they were in “distress.” They were referring to financial situation but it also extended to some other areas. One of their members, they said, is suffering from “torture” at home (that term is used, rather than domestic violence, when it is an ongoing issue). A woman who was very excited and did most of the talking was dealing with a viral infection in her eyes. This lady was an exception to the rest of the group, however. We were meeting at her home that she had bought from the profits of her business.

At the end of our meeting, Rupali served us tea and sweets that they had prepared. They gave us one each of four types, and when I said that one of them was my favorite, I received two more (these sweets are very rich, hard to eat very much). The homeowner showed us around her house. Maybe I’m fishing here but I can see that they were older, more experienced and prepared for guests. They were very happy we were there even if they did not express it; they told me that I was the first Westerner to ever visit their village. The woman who owned the home called me “Chrish, my brother” and asked us to come back for her son’s birthday.

Several of the Bishti members, as we left, insisted we visited their homes. Two of the young ladies I mentioned earlier sat us down on the bed and brought more sweets. The one in whose house we sat had just been married and you could tell she enjoyed the new ability to be a host.

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