Preeti Rajput (22), Rajendri Devi (37), Savitri Devi (45), Aneesa (36), Maya (36) and Nafisa Khatun (63) are all exceptionally strong women battling grinding poverty and trying to live with dignity.
A gender resource centre in their neighbourhood — Mullah Colony and Sapera Colony (both unathorised colonies off the National Highway 24 in east Delhi) — is slowly making their lives not just easier, but also helping the more ambitious ones in the community to find their feet in a world that is constantly thwarting their dreams.
Rajendri Devi and Savitri Devi, both housewives till recently, joined the Lakshmi Yojana (a scheme meant to make women economically self-reliant) and opened grocery shops with money borrowed from the common fund the women had put together.
“I took a loan of Rs 10,000 from the Lakshmi yojana. Now I am able to supplement my family’s income. My husband has been unemployed since he was injured in a motor accident,” said Rajendri Devi.
Preeti Rajput (22), a small time businessman’s daughter, decided to do a beautician’s course from the centre and support her family when her father’s business hit a rough patch. “I decided to pursue my education through the open school. I now train girls at home on beauty care,” said Rajput, who trains 22 girls at her home for Rs 100 per head.
The resource centre is one of the many opened under Delhi government’s Mission Convergence and serves as a one-stop facilitation point for its social welfare schemes.
Sangeeta Kashyap, programme co-ordinator with Care Foundation, said the main purpose of the centre was to tell residents about social schemes they could benefit from.
“Earlier, old age pension or widows’ pension was disbursed by the social welfare department or MLAs. Now, these forms are collected by the resource centres,” said Kashyap.
Most of the residents in the area are illiterate and not aware of the schemes for their welfare.
The gender resource centre, run by Caring Foundation, is a multi-purpose service provider helping the community — especially women and girls — with filing forms for voters’
identity cards, ration cards, opening bank accounts and applying for widows' and old age pension.