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Case Studies

Women’s Shelter

Seva Mandir’s Women’s Shelter received a phone call from some concerned locals who feared for a homeless woman’s safety in Udaipur. She was swiftly brought to the Shelter, where she told us she had been living on the streets for a month after her son kicked her out of her own home.

After settling into the safety of her surroundings, she was assigned a counsellor to help her through her troubling situation. Twenty years ago, her husband died, and she was forced to move back to her parents’ home with her young son. Her parents built a modest one-room home for her

and she started working as a daily labourer to support her son and herself, but it was not to last long. Her son married, and his wife moved into the small one-room house. The wife didn’t want to share a home with her mother-in-law, and the two argued with each other. Eventually, the son kicked his mother out of her home so that he could live alone with his wife. The mother was forced to live on the streets, begging for anything that would help her get by.

After she arrived at the Shelter, she agreed to meet her son so that they could try to find a solution. Seva Mandir counsellors spoke with him, making him aware of the laws he had broken, and his lack of human decency to his mother. He agreed to bring her back to her home, and said that he would build a separate house for himself and his wife.

Our regular visits show that the woman is living happily back in her own house that she worked so hard to make a home.

Sheela and her SHG

The quantity of food in Sheela's house was running dangerously low. She was expecting her husband back a few days ago, and yet he had not returned. His work as a waiter in marriage functions did not pay well, but he was not in a position to turn down a job - for their family, every rupee counted. He would usually return home every few days to help pay for essential items, such as food, but he had been gone for more than 15 days and Sheela was struggling.

Sheela was in a desperate situation. As with many women in Seva Mandir's work area, she had no money of her own and was not able to pay for food to feed herself and her children.

However, as a member of her local Self-Help Group (SHG), she was able to approach them for a small loan of INR 500/$7 so that she could feed her family.

The women members of SHGs consider loan applications themselves. Sheela's loan was granted immediately.

‘I was so worried about what I would do. I needed to feed my children and yet my husband had not returned. But thanks to the SHG I was able to get all of the ingredients I needed' a happy Sheela says, ‘It may only seem like a small amount, but that money helped me and my family see another day'.

Sheela's husband returned. He had not been paid by his employer and was unable to get back to their village. He was glad that Sheela had taken the loan and that the SHG was available to her and other women in their community.

How an SHG saved Babudi's life

Babudi had been seriously ill for a number of days. She knew that she needed to be treated as soon as possible, but the cost was too high for her – if she spent the money on seeing a doctor, how would she feed her five children the following month?

Eventually, her illness became overwhelming. She became critically ill one night and was rushed to a local hospital. After she recovered, the doctors did not want to wait for the payment - they needed it straight away. She only had INR 1,400/$20 in her savings, but it was not enough. As a member of her local SHG, Babudi knew she could rely on them to help. She called her fellow SHG members in the middle of the night and they jumped into action.

The members rushed to the hospital to bring Babudi a loan of INR 2,000/$30 to add to her own savings to pay for the medical costs.

Babudi explains her situation; ‘My fellow SHG associates told me that I need to care for myself and make sure that I get treatment when needed. My husband and in-laws do not take these health issues so seriously. Together, we women are able to look out for one another and support each other. To me, they are like family.’

Together, the SHG members took immediate action in an emergency situation that may have saved Babudi’s life. SHGs do not just provide affordable and accessible credit and savings to women, they also provide a support network where women can come together and help each other when they need.

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