Riffat Rasool, 33, is a leader of Nargis self help group. Riffat has been associated with the SHG since 2007. In the year 2007, she joined Nargis self help group with the reason to connect to other women in her village, Trikolbal. Riffat has fund of ideas and five years back she needed a platform to put across her views to a group of likeminded women in her area. To do something extraordinary is an innate quality in her. Through self help group she was able to materilise her dreams into reality. She fearlessly put forth her views and discussed issues pertaining to her village.
Her SHG comprises seven members. All these seven members are females. She proudly announces that she is an expert in carpet weaving (Wastae Kaar). Riffat has three male children and all of them go to school. She has a dream to provide a good education to her three kids, so that they become self-sufficient and independent in life. She is happy to have enrolled her kids to a nearby local English medium.
“I will do everything whatever is in my hands to provide a humble living and education to my kids,” said Riffat with a spark of seriousness in her eyes
Initially, her group members used to save Rs 10 per month, but now they save Rs 50 per month. This seems a small amount but this little contribution from all the members has helped them at the time of need. In a way they are more autonomous than they used to be.
“We provide loan to SHG members whenever the need arises, so this petite amount has proved a kind of a mini bank for women like us at the time of need,” added Riffat
From the group savings, all the members decided to take out Rs 35, 000. They bought some goats to rear goats in a group. Though rearing goats does not reap them great benefits but they have started off their journey towards self-sufficiency. Riffat has many business ideas. She wants to start tailoring unit and involve other SHG members in this trade. She wants to sew uniforms. This indeed is a novice and a great idea to start with.
Since 2007, she sees a complete makeover in her overall personality. She used to be very shy and reticent. She feared to utter a single word. Her life was confined to a certain limits but the moment she joined SHG (Nargis), she was a changed women, bold and brave in so many things. She learned to face the world. She discovered her real strength.
“Since I joined SHG I learned a lot. I explored the world around me and it was all possible because of the sensitisation provided by Indo-Global Social Service Society,” said Riffat
“Yes, I would say IGSSS changed my outlook and indeed my life.”
Today, Riffat is a different woman. She is quite enthusiastic and excited about so many things. She has come out of the closet to breathe fresh air and live a contended life.
While conversing with Riffat her husband, Ab Hameed peeped from the kitchen window and smiled. He feels so proud on Riffat’s achievements and involvement in Nargis SHG. Hameed who works as a labourer in Trikolbal has been encouraging Riffat. He has never ever stopped Riffat for doing anything. He has been on her side in black and white. Hameed has big dreams for Riffat. He wants her to be a real leader who could lead other women in Trikolbal.
“I want her to contest panchayat elections in future and God willing I will be the first person to cast my vote in her favour,” said Ab Hameed laughingly
Hameed, a lanky and tall man in his mid thirties humbly supports his spouse Riffat. He is kind enough to be on my side even in difficulty, said Riffat.
Riffat’s greatest strength is her husband Hameed. Unlike other males, Hameed is understanding and helpful. He has never stopped her from attending meetings or doing any other activity.
Earlier Hameed was very resistant and defiant. He opposed Riffat for joining self help group. Her participation irritated Hameed, but as time went on Hameed became a little bit flexible. Interaction with the field team and listening to them left an impact on Hameed. Subtly he got sensitised and decided to help Riffat on all fronts. Today Hameed himself is eager to join IGSSS’s mission. He also wants to be a part of change makers.
Al though Riffat rear goats, she still craves to continue carpet weaving which is her favourite and ancestral trade. But circumstances are beyond her control. Carpet weaving is not an individual activity rather it has to be done in a group and at a fixed location.
“I and my other friends can earn a good living by weaving carpets but we have certain constraints which doesn’t allow us to proceed with carpet weaving,” said she.
Nargis self help group has left a trail in Trikolbal. In March this year all the SHG members filed an RTI against Zonal Education Officer (ZEO) Pattan, Baramulla to obtain information on quality and quantity of food (mid-day meals) provided to children in the schools. The members appealed ZEO Pattan to furnish exact details of mid-day meals plan for the current year (2012). Instead of furnishing information on mid-day meals plan for the year 2012, ZEO Pattan tried to browbeat and dissuaded SHG members. Despite ZEOs objection, SHG members stood firm and resistant.
When ZEO Pattan failed to pester SHG members, he created confusion between the teachers and the community. He tried to invigorate teachers. The teachers in return build pressure on SHG members and asked them to withdraw RTI application filed against ZEO Pattan. In spite of all the pressure tactics, Nargis SHG stood by its demand because they felt they have every right to get the information. As is true, truth prevails in the end, same happened in this case. The enthusiasm and honestly of SHG members won at the end. ZEO Pattan apologised to group leader of Nargis SHG Ms Riffat and assured her of all the possible help.
“Our SHG filed an RTI because we felt our children don’t get the desired quantity of food in schools. We sensed something dodgy in this whole affairs and then all of us (SHG members) took a unanimous decision to file an RTI application,” said Riffat resolutely
“We are still waiting for the information and we are also hopeful that our hard work will not go in vain,” asserted Riffat, group leader, Nargis SHG
With these words she and her other co-workers went on to the field to finish her work. They were more resolute and confident this time. For them, this is just a beginning…sky is awaiting them.