Conversations on mats, perseverance amidst poverty

February 26, 2016 By Rang De Team

Megha and Rang De borrowers near Mysore

Megha and Rang De borrowers near Mysore

Megha K is a member of the Rang De Writers team and has written and helped over 500 individuals get financial assistance in a year. Our team contains over 80 people from all walks of life all across India — write to suhas@rangde.org to join Rang De Writers.

Last week, she visited Swami Vivekananda Youth Foundation, one of our Field Partners, and you can read about her thoughts here.

All of us living in the cities complain about so many things — the traffic, the government, the lack of increment in our pay, the overflowing garbage on the streets, the lack of respect at our jobs and whether we feel loved at home or among friends, the tolerance/intolerance debates on national television.

A visit to a village will surely bring us back to our senses. How a person manages the money earned in six months to provide for her family for the entire year — that’s a real financial challenge.

Frankly, the best conversations we had were on a mat, outside the borrower's house with the sounds of cows mooing, hens clucking & goats baying in the background.

Frankly, the best conversations we had were on a mat, outside the borrower’s house with the sounds of cows mooing, hens clucking & goats baying in the background

The medical facilities in the villages is really limited and people are mainly dependent on private clinics and hospitals. This sadly means that our loan is not at all sufficient to satisfy all or even 50% of the needs of the borrowers.

The borrowers have no choice but to look out for other options such as banks or other MFI or some are even forced to indulge in procuring money from unofficial money lenders even after taking loans from Rang De.

The street vendors were the happiest of all the people who received loans from Rang De as they have steady demand and it helps them grow their business

The street vendors were the happiest of all the people who received loans from Rang De as they have steady demand and it helps them grow their business

There are so many things one can complain about in the villages we visited, the kachharoads, lack of proper public transport due to which men and women need to walk long distances from bus stop to their homes, the lack of safety and security, mud houses that don’t look durable.

But none of the borrowers complained or even mentioned these things. All they wished for is financial assistance which will help fulfil their basic needs — food, water and other amenities.

A small but interesting factor: Chairs. Some can afford to buy chairs whereas the furniture in others houses is limited to 2 wooden beds to sleep.

A small but interesting factor: Chairs. Some can afford to buy chairs whereas the furniture in others houses is limited to 2 wooden beds to sleep.

Of all that I saw, despite the poverty, it’s the underlying spirit & perseverance that struck me the most among all the borrowers.

Yes, they don’t have sufficient finance. Yes, they have to depend on other micro-finance institutions as well (who give them the loans quicker but at higher rates). Yes, not all of them own furniture and other assets. Yes, they have a whole lot of things they could complain about.

But they keep going, keep pushing forward, keep trying new ways to fulfil their needs and I’m sure they will continue to do so.

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All we can hope is to provide them encouragement and motivation at least through the loans, if not directly in person.