PILLARS OF CHANGE

RIZWANA

Rizwana's parents are divorced and have grown up under a continuous stress. She was only two years old when her father divorced her mother. She is now living with her grandparents and pursuing graduation in Arts. Her income is mainly dependent on sozni work

Rizwana is now a member of Self Help Group which was formed and facilitated by HELP Foundation in 2017. She is a registered artisan and is eligible for the schemes available through the department of Handicrafts.

HELP Foundation has organised scores of Training & Awareness Programmes for the HBWs. However, Rizwana could relate the programme on legal aid awareness where the advocate informed the participants that they can take the help of courts to secure justice for themselves and their families. In this regard, Rizwana went a step ahead and enquired if there is any provision under law where in a father is supposed to bear the expenses of their children, even if the parents are divorced.

Rizwana was having some problem in filling Marriage Assistance application form on the grounds that her father is a government employee. It was only after the intervention by Team PIE that she successfully filled her marriage assistance form in the Social Welfare Department.

Rizwana is of the opinion that HBWs like her are always being exploited by middleman who provide raw material (Shawls) to them against certain fixed terms and conditions. But, after finishing embroidery, the middlemen provide a meagre amount to the workers while a major chunk is deducted citing various lame excuses. She, however, is aware that the middlemen do it on purpose as a means of exploitation who go on to sell these finished products at higher price. She is very adamant to change this scenario by empowering herself.

She knew that she has to fight on various fronts to secure her future and her siblings and is highly motivated to file a case in the court against her father for financial assistance laid down under legal provisions, Marriage Assistance application follow up and a major front against the middlemen to secure her rights.

She is hopeful that her stand will help in a long way in improving the economic, social and physical conditions of all such HBWs. Moreover working in a group does help these workers to share their stories and become a motivation force for others to fight for their rights.Rizwana's parents are divorced and have grown up under a continuous stress. She was only two years old when her father divorced her mother. She is now living with her grandparents and pursuing graduation in Arts. Her income is mainly dependent on sozni work

Rizwana is now a member of Self Help Group which was formed and facilitated by HELP Foundation in 2017. She is a registered artisan and is eligible for the schemes available through the department of Handicrafts.

HELP Foundation has organised scores of Training & Awareness Programmes for the HBWs. However, Rizwana could relate the programme on legal aid awareness where the advocate informed the participants that they can take the help of courts to secure justice for themselves and their families. In this regard, Rizwana went a step ahead and enquired if there is any provision under law where in a father is supposed to bear the expenses of their children, even if the parents are divorced.

Rizwana was having some problem in filling Marriage Assistance application form on the grounds that her father is a government employee. It was only after the intervention by Team PIE that she successfully filled her marriage assistance form in the Social Welfare Department.

Rizwana is of the opinion that HBWs like her are always being exploited by middleman who provide raw material (Shawls) to them against certain fixed terms and conditions. But, after finishing embroidery, the middlemen provide a meagre amount to the workers while a major chunk is deducted citing various lame excuses. She, however, is aware that the middlemen do it on purpose as a means of exploitation who go on to sell these finished products at higher price. She is very adamant to change this scenario by empowering herself.

She knew that she has to fight on various fronts to secure her future and her siblings and is highly motivated to file a case in the court against her father for financial assistance laid down under legal provisions, Marriage Assistance application follow up and a major front against the middlemen to secure her rights.

She is hopeful that her stand will help in a long way in improving the economic, social and physical conditions of all such HBWs. Moreover working in a group does help these workers to share their stories and become a motivation force for others to fight for their rights.

DILSHADA

Dilshada was born in the village Ohangam of Beerwah Tehsil. Her father was killed in 2001 due to which she left her education after completing her Matriculation to support her family. She is having two sisters and one brother. Her mother started living separately after her remarriage.

Dilshada along with her sisters and brother were brought up by their uncle in the village Dragar. Dilshada learned sozni craft and gradually became a skilled worker which resulted in improvement of their economic condition. Dilshad would support her family out of sozni work earnings.She also kept on saving money for her marriage and got married to a driver in the same village where her mother remarried.

HELP Foundation in association with Action Aid Association started Project PIE which provided various training & awareness facilities to the artisans including raw material and the marketing of finished goods.

Dilshada came to know about the Project PIE through one of the orientation programmes which resulted information of a SHG in Ohangam. She is an important member of the SHG. She believes that various issues were discussed with the members of the group through various training & awareness programmes which resulted in solution to a number of problems which the members faced. It came to lime light that these workers are exploited by middlemen who provide raw material to these artisans but pay very less as compared to the benefits they draw through selling these finished goods.

She understands the underlying concept of collectivization and encourages all the group members to come together on daily basis so that they could share their problems and grow as a force against any injustice. She has been working very hard on the count shawls provided to her and other group members and believes that the assistance would result in improvement of her economic condition.

She now considers herself more skillful than ever as a result of project PIE intervention through which she was able to visit various women empowerment centers across the valley where she realized how collective working enhanced the living standard of women. She feels connected to the world after undergoing events like Vocational Training, Handicrafts Registration, Leadership Training and so on organized for the HBWs from time to time.

Dilshada is of the opinion that the joint & individual bank accounts will go a long way in safeguarding the rights and interests of women and would enable women to save money as well which could be utilized in starting a joint venture. Dildhada is of the opinion that the artisan registration through Handicraft Department has given her a different identity which would enable her in future to participate in various exhibitions and showcase her finished goods.

She is now more aware about the schemes available to the women through various departments and agencies and even keeps a track of news through Print and Electronic media as she believes that in future she would definitely start her own business and would ensure stable earnings for her sisters and brother along with other women she would work with.

RAHTEE BANO

Ghulam Mohiuddin Hajam ,the only bread earner for his family, died on 08/08/2008 leaving behind his wife Rehti Bano, 7 children( 3 daughters and 4 sons) and a physically disabled brother in law. The age of the eldest son of Rehti Bano was only 12 years at the time of the death of her husband. Now the responsibility of the family was on her shoulders. Liyaqat Mohiuddin, the eldest son of Rehti Bano could not see the sufferings of her and left studies to work as a labourer and earn for his family.

September 2014 floods in the valley brought another misfortune to the family. They lived in a shared house that too collapsed by the flood waters leaving the family of 9 members homeless. At the time of the cash relief distribution by the Revenue department, the brother in law of Rehti Bano claimed one third share in the collapsed house and the issue was not settled. Hence the Revenue department cancelled the cash relief for both the families.

After the denial of the cash relief by the government for the construction of their house, they constructed a shed from the debris of the collapsed housed to live in. The family income was too low to construct a new house and were forced to sell off the agricultural land for the construction of a new house which also needed for getting her daughter married. It is very difficult for homeless people to get their children married. In June 2018 we had an interaction with village committee for the livelihood intervention under project “LIVED” supported by TATA relief committee. The village committee prioritized Rehti Bano for livelihood support. During the verification we found the said family in a miserable conditions, but the family was hardworking and were taking good care of an existing, low milking capacity cow. We decided to provide this family a cow as livelihood support under the project.

The average milking capacity of the cow is 8 litres per day. They sell 8 litres per day and use the milk from another cow for domestic consumption. They earn an amount of Rs 6240/- per month from the sale of milk and get cow dung as manure for their land. Now her three sons too started formal schooling. HELP Foundation provided a Sewing Machine to their daughter under “One Nation” supported project. We hope this support also will prove as a sustainable livelihood option for this unfortunate family.

MEHFOOZA AKHTER

Mahfooza Akther, after losing her father at an early age to a congenital heart ailment, left her studies to learn tailoring skill. At the age when pen and books should have been in her bag she used to carry scissors and other tailoring equipments, all because of that congenital heart ailment to which her father succumbed. Sadly this heart ailment was inherited to her three brothers also.

After completing her tailoring training Mahfooza Akhter joined HELP Foundation’s tailoring centre at Saida Kadal and continues tailoring for her wherewithal, Mahfooza was happy with her earnings. Mahfooza got married at an age of 30, she was happy with her new life. Sadly her happiness was short lived and got divorced within two months of her marriage. After divorce she started living with one of her brother. Her brother died soon she started living with his family. Mehfooza’s misfortune aggravated with her mother’s death. She was left alone with no one to look after. Mehfooza migrated to her younger brother, a daily wager surviving heart ailment.

September 2014 floods in the valley brought another misfortune to this family, their house collapsed leaving them homeless and soon her second bother died of cardiac arrest. Ironically LAWDA did not allow them to construct a new house and are now living in a rented room since 2014. HELP Foundation could not be a mute spectator to her sufferings, Mehfooza was supported financially to establish a canteen near one of the leading coaching institutions of Valley. Mehfooza did not lose her courage and stood fast and firm to fight her sufferings. She earns a good amount of money now to support her life and pays for her brother’s medical bills. Mehfooza is all set to construct her house as soon as the concerned authority permits her to do so.

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