Charting a course away from poverty | Rashmi’s Story

Rashmi is 27 years old and lives in rural Bihar with her mother-in-law, elder brother-in-law, husband, two daughters and one son.

She is a member of one of the microfinance Self-Help Groups | SHGs that just completed CorStone’s SHG Resilience Project, which provides 18 weekly hour-long sessions to help women improve their resilience, mental and emotional wellbeing, and self-sufficiency. Sessions include topics such as character strengths, emotional intelligence, goal setting and planning, assertive communication, and problem solving.

Opportunity restricted by convention

Rashmi is one of the lucky few women in rural India who were able to complete high school. Rashmi grew up in the neighboring state of Jharkhand and graduated at the top of her class. Her parents then sent her to the state of Bihar to be married to a man who lived there.

When Rashmi moved to Bihar, she moved in with her husband’s family and her movements became completely restricted. Suddenly, she was simply working in the home and was not allowed to leave the house at all. The family struggled a lot and Rashmi was keenly aware that they lived below the poverty line.

Self Help Group creates a positive future

A few years after moving to Bihar, she was approached by a staff member from Integrated Development Foundation, one of CorStone’s local partners. They were forming SHGs at the time for savings and loan activities, and they encouraged her to join.

Fortunately, her husband’s family agreed to allow her to join, and she began attending the SHG meetings. She hoped that the SHG would enable her to save enough money to provide for an emergency. And she was thrilled to be able to leave the house.

The SHG program taught us how to live a good life and make good decisions. #CorStone #SHG #Resilience Click To Tweet

Rashmi has now been in the SHG for six years. In addition to savings and loan activities, her group has also received a number of different programs, including a health program. Her SHG recently completed the CorStone SHG Resilience Program, which she says was “the best one.”

All of her fellow SHG members attended the sessions regularly. Now that the program has completed, she wishes the program could continue to “give us some more knowledge, if there is any possibility.”

When the women started attending the SHG group sessions, they felt freedom in themselves.
Rashmi | SHG Group Participant

As she put it, “There was nothing that I didn’t like in the group. It really taught you how to live a good life and to make good decisions in life. It also motivated anyone who loses hope in life.

SHG Resilience Project | CorStone
Women share character strengths with one another | CorStone SHG Resilience

Charting a course away from poverty

Rashmi’s favorite sessions were about goal setting. A few years ago, she had started a small sundry shop within her home. Although some people came to the shop, it wasn’t doing very well. During the sessions on goal setting, she decided that her new goal would be to move her shop to the marketplace, where she would be able to access more customers and make more money.

She was able to make a step-by-step plan to follow. She says now, “I have a plan to overcome our poverty.” This attitude is completely different from the attitude of others in her family; as Rashmi says, “sometimes my family members lose hope very quickly.” She does her best to help them stay hopeful.

I have a plan to overcome our poverty. #CorStone #SHG #Resilience Click To Tweet

Newfound strength, persistence and hope

After learning about her character strengths in the program, Rashmi feels that some of her top strengths are leadership, persistence, creativity, and love of learning.

She is concerned that others, in her family and in the village, will not support her in moving her shop outside of her house, feeling that women should not work outside of the home. But she says that she plans to use her persistence and creativity to convince people that she should be able to work outside the home.

I want to take the goodness I have inside to do things outside.
Rashmi | SHG Group Participant

The things that she learned about herself in the group have truly changed her view of who she is and what is possible for her in the world. As Rashmi says, “I am the one who can help myself, because I think I have the ability to do something. One can change their destiny.

The CorStone SHG Resilience Project was supported with funds provided by PCI through its donor the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Kate Sachs Leventhal serves as Research and Program Director for all CorStone programs. Learn more about Kate, connect with her on LinkedIn, send an Email, or just call 415.388.6161.

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