The First Meeting

‘It has been two months, you haven’t even rang me up’, dadi complained.

I met Krishna bai during the SHG meeting. She has been the leader of Angoori SHG since the last ten years. They had a savings of 1.5 lakhs and has been inter-landing along these past years. Every member in the group told how Krishna bai, whom I call ‘dadi’ now, has been keystone in sustaining the group. They had never been able to get substantial amount of loans from the local banks. Despite all the issues dadi has been able leadership and her understanding on importance of savings had saved the group from collapsing. She had managed to regulate the inter-landing cycle at the interest rate of 3 % to make the group more profitable.

It was my initial few months in the organization and I was not at all comfortable in conducting SHG meetings. But, Angoori group had a lot of expectations from me. They were waiting for me to deliver some relevant information on loans. I could empathize with them, they had been waiting for loans since 10 years. My hands were tight too, I was there only for a field visit. All I knew was they may get it under our project if the concepts of their SHGs are right along with book-keeping. I started interacting with them and all the learning from the previous visits to different SHGs were helping me to talk about the matters of SHGs. This is how unknowingly I conducted my first SHG meeting. I told them about the different concepts of SHGs, necessity of rules and regulations in a group and importance of bookkeeping. And the meeting ended in a a happy note, as they had never had some basic information to regulate a group. Dadi shared a lot of insights about her group and the difficulties she had faced in running a SHG. I too, empathized with dadi and told her if the group follows some basic rules about the functioning of group then she might experience less difficulty.

After two months, i went back to see the Angoori SHG. Dadi was extremely delighted seeing me. She told me very proudly that the group has been following the concepts of SHGs that I had told them, religiously now. She complained it to me, why it took me so long to visit her group. She questioned me did i missed her or not. And, all of a sudden she started crying. Her authoritative manner of questioning me, her unconditional love and her excitement of following the rules that i have told her; they all made me confident in regards my work and as a human. Since then, I have handled the community with a confidence like an expert does! She has played a significant role in my life in making me a community person and to date she keeps on encouraging me.

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