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This is not just a success story but the story of transformation.............

Date : Mar 31, 2009
This is not just a success story but the story of transformation.............
Chameli Devi Das, at present is a well known name, people love to talk to her and her presence is certain in every program, conference and convention organized on women's issues in Dhanusha District. Politicians visit her house every now and then, and media often covers her story.

It is the same Chameli Devi for whom, from hand to mouth was a big deal, just a couple of years back. Being a landless, the only livelihood option she had was to work as a farm-labor on a daily wages basis. Her husband, Manikant Das too was a labor. Both of them could hardly manage enough to feed their family. Recalling her past days Chameli says, "I still remember the days when I and my children slept with empty stomach". However, the situation is different now. Her life has changed. All doors seem to be open for her. She has her own dairy and she earns sufficient money to manage daily needs by selling dairy products.

Chameli Devi, resident of Laxmipur Bageba-4 belongs to Dalit community. Dalits are scheduled caste (untouchable), traditionally marginalized and Hindu caste system places it at the bottom of the caste ladder. In some places they are prohibited to fetch water from community well because they are untouchable. In contrary, at present people from every caste, creed and status like to stop at Chameli Devi's dairy shop to have a cup of tea.

These changes became possible in her life just because one fine day she chose to join Lok Pathasala (Open Village School), one of the components of JIWAN program implemented by Samaj Utthan Yuwa Kendra (SUYUK) in partnership of Care Nepal running successively since 2006 in her village. In the beginning, her husband opposed her from getting involved in Lok Pathasala's activities. In spite of his denial, she continued to participate in the Lok Pathasala's sessions. Consequently, her confidence level boosted up and power of expression enhanced. When asked Manikant admits the reason behind his disapproval concerning his wife's involvement in Lok Pathasala," I used to think women are born to serve family but a woman crossing the doorstep and working for a social development cause was simply out of question for me".

Today, she has a dairy shop in Janakpur and her husband supports her to run this business. Manikant's perception also changed with time. These days he feels pride to introduce himself as Chameli's husband. She had established dairy firm with an investment of more than one hundred thousands. She managed to obtain financial support to set-up dairy firm in initiation of Samaj Utthan Yuwa Kendra (SUYUK). She got financial support and credit support from District Livestock Service Office and District Development Committee (Local Development Trust) respectively. This dairy business has uplifted her economical state.

Slightly literate, Chameli Devi possess a dream to see her children become a doctor/ engineer in future.  Therefore, she sends her three sons to school. Her youngest daughter is not yet old enough to join school. In general, it is seen that children from Dalit community do not go to school rather they keep themselves engaged entire day working with their parents. This is the story of Chameli Devi, who became idol of Dalit women in short span of time. The saying," Success is not where you stand but the direction in which you see" seems to be true in her case. This is not just a success story but the story of Transformation in the life of a rural woman. This is not the only success story that Lok Pathasala has come up with till date but one in a series...............            

 - Neetu Dubey           
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