Dreams Never End

Golapi Devi

"I feel most women around me also feel the same way, but don’t have the means. I have been in talks with the field staff of Trickle Up to help me start the second business. Then my husband can run the shop and I can run the beauty parlour."

One of the busiest little shops situated on the highway passing through the Naranga village in the Pakur district of Jharkhand, is run by Golapi Devi and her husband Nandlal Maraiya. Parents to two sons and a daughter, this couple’s days are now all about taking turns to run this shop selling daily consumables while other household chores are also attended to.
It wasn’t however, always like this. Till 2016, Nandlal used to migrate outside his state in search of work that would help him sustain his family. Golapi was a homemaker, busy taking care of her three children while he was away, and sometimes working in others’ fields as a daily wage worker. When Trickle Up intervened with its program on livelihoods intervention in Naranga, Golapi refused to join the Self Help Group (SHG) as she was scared and unsure of how it would help her. Several stories of how women attached to SHGs were unable to return the credit they owed, and the consequences of these incidents had made her extremely suspicious of such activities. It took the field staff of Trickle Up quite a few conversations for her to start envisioning a future where her husband could stay with her and help her sustain their family.
Once Golapi became a part of the group, she was also selected to become a participant for M-Powered, a project run by Trickle Up in partnership with TATA Communications. As an M-Powered participant, she was eligible for a seed grant of INR 3000 and a smartphone as well. While a lot of women in her group opted for agricultural practices or livestock rearing, Golapi expressed a desire to run a shop of her own. Initially, she started selling only edibles like chocolates and biscuits.
Slowly, she moved on to selling most items required to run households, from edibles, to stationery, to costume jewelry and even toiletries. Not to mention, this also the most popular tea and paan (a mouth freshener made with betel leaf) joint in the area, where most vehicles would stop for a bit of friendly chatter and a break.
“This smartphone has changed the way I work. It has become very easy to coordinate with my husband when he goes to the wholesale market to buy stock for our shop. I can check and let him know over the phone if I’ve missed mentioning items on our list. I can also get to know if he is going to be late or is stuck somewhere. Sometimes, I even call up the distributors to send the stock to my shop. That saves us a lot of time and conveyance cost,” says Golapi.
Her eldest son is in the twelfth standard, the younger son has just appeared for his tenth standard examinations and her daughter, the youngest is now studying in the eighth standard. She makes a profit of about INR 300-400 from her shop every day. This makes her confident that she will be able to give them access to quality education. What makes this journey more special for Golapi, is that her husband is an equal partner in every sense of the term. “I have always supported her. She has never been alone in her struggle. And I will support her always. With this smartphone, we are now better connected, and we also get additional information from it. That helps a lot in running our shop,” smiles Nandlal.
From being a simple homemaker, who was content with whatever life had offered her and convinced, that a life full of struggle is what she was supposed to endure, Golapi has certainly come a long way. Today she has her own dreams and big ones.
“The next step is to make a pukka house for ourselves, and of course, to open my beauty parlour. There are no parlours in the vicinity, and I love looking good,” she smiles, “I feel most women around me also feel the same way, but don’t have the means. I have been in talks with the field staff of Trickle Up to help me start this second business. Then my husband can run the shop and I can run the beauty parlour.”

“This (self help) group has completely changed the way I think. It has made me believe that if others can, so can I. I am trying, and I am going to make it happen,” she signs off.

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