Ujjayini Self Help Group of the community based organization (CBO) MATE of Bagdah block of North 24 Parganas district has successfully overcome numerous impediments and finally managed to form the group to include 5 right holders who required social inclusion to ensure their financial empowerment. But the journey was quite demanding but they did not let that affect their indomitable spirit and worked relentlessly to form the group to bring the victims of trafficked survivors to the upper spiral of the poverty ladder.
As per the perceived notion of the members of the organization, a group could never be formed with less than a minimum number of 10 members. Henceforth, the CBO organized a sensitization meeting for 5 community members along with 5 existing right holders who had already shown interest to be part of a Self Help Group (SHG). On February 6, 2019, this meeting was held and the members of the community showed enthusiasm to create a group which all the 10 members unanimously named ‘Ujjayini’. Following this a meeting was called with Ms Meera Mondal, CSP official. During the meeting it was pointed out by MS. Mondal that since it was supposed to be a survivors’ group it will, best to have a group only with survivors of trafficking. Following this suggestion, the group was formed with only 5 survivors of trafficking. The CBO made a bold initiative to convince the Block Development Officer regarding the necessity of building a collective with these 5 victims of trafficked survivors who are excluded and denied access to all the benefits of Government safety net programs to instil a sense of inclusion amongst them. Sharing was done by Ms Meera Mondal on ‘Swami Vivekananda Swanirbhar Karmasangsthan Prakalpa’, a noteworthyendeavour of Government of West Bengal which aims to generateself-employment in the urban and rural areas of the state through promotion of tiny scale units of production, manufacturing, trade, service or any other sector including agro-based industries, floriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry other than direct agriculture. This discussion emphasized upon the fact that a group of 5 could be formed considering the challenges related to unavailability of any additional member in the group.
Accordingly, Mr. Jyotiprakash Halder, Block Development Officer (BDO) of Bagdah block was consulted and necessary credentials were submitted of all the 5 members of ‘Ujjaiyini’- Kiran Mundari, Moumita Biswas, Raymani Mundari, Taslima Mondal and Nargis Mondal. He overcame his Initial reluctance and agreed to open the group with only 5 members when he was informed about the scheme related to ‘Atma Marjada’ and ‘Atma Samman’, he looked into the detailed information and immediately provided an alternative date for a meeting with 5 right holders. Ms Phalguni Mondal, Women Development Officer of Bagdah block was contacted and a letter of approval for formation of Ujjayini with 5 right holders under the ‘Swami Vivekananda Swanirbhar Karmasangsthan Prakalpa’ scheme was issued. Mr Jytoiprakash Halder also supported in getting the group a bank account by issuing a letter of permission to the bank to allow them to have a group account.
Ujjayini successfully received bank account number on September 19, 2019. Presently, the group is meeting twice a month and collectively decided to save Rs 100 for savings purpose which could be used to overcome unforeseen situations. The group has chosen their right holders- they have selected Kiran Mundari as their Treasurer, Moumita Biswas as their President and Tashima Mondal as Secretary. As per SHG guideline under National Livelihood Mission (NLM), they are maintaining all books of records namely they are documenting the major discussion points of their monthly meetings in minutes book, keeping their savings in the banks and updating their books of accounts on regular basis, maintaining their attendance register to track average attendance of the members.
Ujjayini has decided to submit an application to get associated with the Cluster which would ensure access to the skill development trainings provided at the block level and furthermore sustainability of the group through increased access to income generating activities.
This journey of Ujjayini, although was full of ups and downs in the beginning, eventually teaches us that fight should be put up for what one believes in. The process turned out to be quite a difficult one but it made its contribution to the larger movement of the women for self-dependency and economic empowerment.