Bulanit Mahara recalls, “I cannot believe few years back I was ‘nobody’, a puppet to my family.” She is 24 years old; married, a full-time family care taker of her two sons, husband and her in-laws. She was able to complete her education upto SLC, right after which she got married. She had profound interest in pursuing further study but her parents forced her into marriage as a result got stuck with a life of a ‘house-wife’. She had no freedom to decide what she wanted to do. She neither got any opportunity to pursue her education nor was permitted to participate in function, event, trainings or work for extra income in the family.
But her life changed after FEDO intervened. We went to Siraha Municipality ward no.3 to organize Dalit women to orient them on WASH rights and maintain their sanitation and hygiene. After series of interaction and convincing the community, we were able to form a group of 20 Dalit women; Bulanti Mahara was also able to join the group- Maa Bhagwati Dalit Women’s Group.
Mahara has shown great interest and progress after right after few months of participation in the group. She had keen enthusiasm to bring change in her life as well as her family and community. To fuel her enthusiasm, FEDO started to provide her with platform where she can acquire orientation regarding WASH rights and capacity enhancement trainings for economic empowerment. As a result of which, she has not only understood about the importance of WASH but also is able to earn money.
She says, “My house and surrounding remains clean as I am aware and conscious of my health and hygiene. I am not careless anymore. I teach my children and others too- to maintain cleanliness so that we remain healthy and don’t fall sick.” She further adds, “I feel independent to have income of my own. I can buy my own necessary things without having any discussions at home. My kids are happy and that is what matters to me the most.”
Today, Mahara is a very active woman and successful in her own ways. She speaks without any fear or hesitation and her members look up to her. She has inspired many other women to learn to make bangle and add a source of income. She says, “I enjoy teaching other women as we share and connect. It gives us a feeling of togetherness and that we have each other’s support.”