A poor and illiterate woman of a village in Jharkhand has created history by forming self help “Jeewan Jyoti group” which can rightly boast of having 2.41 crore rupees in bank accounts. She manages and plans the activities of the women group having about 20,000 women with a view to help poor and needy women by giving them small loans.

            Way back in 1995 when the ladies of the villages around Ranchi were not literate and they neither had any control over the finances of the household nor were allowed to handle money. They had no say in the male dominated society. Samina Khatoon was not satisfied with the state of affairs and she was not prepared to take things lying down. While attending adult literacy classes, besides learning the three R’s, she also learnt the importance of small savings. She struck upon a novel idea,so what if the ladies didn’t have access to money, they certainly had access to rice.

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A small group of ladies pooled a bowl of rice each and sold the whole of it in the local weekly market. This brought them some money, which they used to buy some other commodities, and sold them to make some profit. This cycle continued and at the end one year they earned a profit of Rs 500 Encouraged by the district literacy coordinator Kusum, more ladies joined the group and the profits soared to Rs 1000 and then Rs 10,000.

The group started giving small loans to their women members on an interest of Rs 1 per month for every Rs 100. If people out side the group asked for a loan they had to pay more interest. Gradually the women were also encouraged to save Rs 4-5 per week. All the money was kept in a box, as they didn’t have a bank account.

A good Samaritan Shri Kamal Kishore Son IAS, the erstwhile D C of Ranchi guided and motivated these ladies to form the self help group “Jeewan Jyoti women’s group” and also helped them to get it registered in 2006. He helped them to open their bank accounts in nationalized banks and also facilitated the initial allotment of seed money of Rs. 10,000 to each self help group. To give a further boost, 45 women of these groups were allotted shops under the Public Distribution System. Presently the Jeewan Jyoti group is composed of about 1200 self help groups each having about 10-15 women. Most of these groups are functioning in rural areas of Jharkhand.

Samina Khatoon was is now the Secretary of the Jeewan Joyti Group beams with confidence, when she articulates her aim of making every woman literate and financially independent. If any lady is oppressed or exploited, the members of the group help her to get justice. They also support ladies who are harassed by their in laws or drunkard husbands and resolve their problems.

(The above story is based on the interview of Ms Samina Khatoon by Maj Pradeep Khare. She may be contacted on 09939586131)

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