By Anju Lavina, Rang De Team
Being born to Social Workers and subsequently working in the social sector means that I have had many opportunities to meet people in the field, interact with them on a one-one basis and understand their stories and inevitably become a part of their lives. Some of these stories are heartbreaking and some disillusion you. I know the routine — it’s a “Been there. Done that!” sort of experience most days. But my field trip with Rang De was interesting. It was different.
Here in the depths of India were random people who, through a medium like Rang De, were able to turn their life around. It was humbling to imagine that a Social Investor sitting somewhere in a corporate office in the north was able to metaphorically hold a child’s hand while the money that he invested ensured that her mother was making enough money to send her to school. It really is that simple.
Some of the people I met talked about their difficulties and their triumphs because of small loans which were otherwise closed to them or offered at ridiculous interest rates. To be part of her family’s life financially has long been a dream of Kamalam. She has 2 children studying in the 9th and the 7th standards and her husband is a Daily Wage Laborer, helping in cabling of telephone wires. With the promise of the Rang De loan, she soon had dreams for how she could help — Cow rearing. Using the Rs. 7500 given to her through the contributions of her Social Investors, and an additional 7500 that she made from selling her old cow, she was able to purchase a new cow and it’s calf as well as repaired her cattle shed. She sells the milk that she makes from her cow to the society who, apart from paying her for the milk, also provides cattle feed at a subsidized rate. With the money that she makes from the cow — she is able to meet her children’s’ fees, pay for cattle feed and even contribute towards household expenses. She dreams of owning another cow and using her business to start saving for the future of her family.
Hajira is the president of her Self-Help Group and an exemplary leader according to her fellow members. Due to a previous illness she had to sell her cow to meet medical expenses and had to rely on the wages of her husband — a rubber tapper, but now with the Rang De loan and her previous savings, she has been able to restart her business of cow-rearing. From the milk that she sells, she is able to make Rs. 1000 every 10 days and she finds that she is no longer worried about meeting fee expenses for her 2 children. She even has a savings of Rs. 200 (increased from Rs. 70) a week through a chit fund. She doesn’t know exactly how much her income has increased by but she knows it has because she is able to afford cattle feed, meet family expenses and even send her children to school. She is also now able to cultivate bananas on land that she has leased through the money she makes from her cow-rearing business and she was excited that she was finally able to afford the mixie she had always wanted. Hajira is satisfied with how things are at home right now and she says that she doesn’t need loans anymore.
To support her 3 children, Devaki adds to her husband’s daily wage (butcher) income by working as an agricultural daily wage laborer and through goat rearing. With the Rang De loan, she was able to buy 2 goats who gave her two kids which she sold for Rs. 4000. This amount has helped her to buy a mixie that she has always wanted and also invest Rs. 100 in a weekly savings chit fund. It is still too early to look at long term income benefits but she is confident that she will be able to expand her goat business soon. Her dream is to own 5–7 goats and be able to save enough to send her children to school when they are old enough for it.
These random acts of kindness through lending on the Rang De portal were, before my very eyes, making such simple yet effective difference in the borrowers’ lives. It’s hard to remain a skeptic once you see the difference you make for yourselves. I was more convinced than ever that in every community there is work to be done. In every nation there are wounds to heal. In every heart there is the power to do it.
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