Saving is a very beautiful habit, but to save is actually very tough. Most of us have been unsuccessful to save for themselves, forget about!
Since the last 9-10 months, all I have been listening and working on is Savings (no… no… I haven’t been saving but I preach). The foundation of my organization lies on savings. We work with Self-Help Groups (SHGs), and savings is of the main sutras of SHGs. The SHGs starts with cluster of 10-12 women forming a group to save an equal amount of money and rotating their savings within their group as internal loan amount, till eternity. Thus, while imparting the information to them to form a group or to give them the training or to run a SHG, saving is a core necessity.
Mostly the SHG women are farmers, due to the heavy rain and drastic drought, the agriculture has been severely affected, so does their income. This has been their main excuse of either not to save or quit the SHGs. It has been very difficult for me to tell the SHG women to save. It was all because of my guilt which came half from inside as I don’t save myself and half as an environmentalist as I know poor are not benefited of some advancements of science.
The SHGs which are about to collapse, you have to be very patient to make them understand why saving is really good. But, some of the groups were so poor that they refused to save even Rs. 20 per month. In the beginning hearing such a thing would sink my heart. Eventually, I learned everybody can save, and those SHGs also started savings. A good learning was when I met Kala Bai and Durga Bai. They are daily wage laborers who earn Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 5,000 per month. They save regularly but not for themselves! One of the field officers told me that Kala Bai had donated Rs 10000 to their federation. I was astonished! The first thing that came in my mind was “why she did that”! When I asked her gently, what made her do that, she said – “the federation works for women like me. I have reached at this stage because of it only. Saving was the first step. Rs 10,000 were the reward money which I decided to donate because I wanted to build confidence among women about savings and what women can do if they run the group wisely”. Currently, she is the president of the federation called Sakhi Manch.
In one of the SHGs meetings, the group leader introduced me to Durga didi. In her introduction she said she saves regularly. Durga didi is a widow in her late 50s and is the sole member of the family that she lost in a tragic accident few years back. She saves for the community temple. She has been a part of the group since four years now.
The pride and the confidence that I have seen in the face of those ladies is incomparable. I just cannot describe how I really feel after meeting and having a discussion with those ladies. But, I feel lucky that I met them and they will inspire me the whole life. The point to be noted is that it doesn’t require money but spirit to save….especially for philanthropy!