Connecting local responses around the world
I am a social worker and was to arrange for SALT visit in the village of Bachauli, Khanpur Block on the banks of river. Villagers are primarily engaged in fishing, working in brick klins and as bonded labourers in agriculture. Men primarily work in bricklins where they earn Rs 500-700 per day (10-15 USD).
I was arranging logistics for the SALT and therefore, could not participate in the SALT discussion. The SALT facilitation team left. As I was arranging, I was finishing and came back later. After the SALT I overheard the women who participated in the SALT meeting talking about it. Suddenly, a young 20-year old man came to the women. He instigated the women by saying that the NGO was trying to use them for action research. The women retorted that the meeting was useful to them. They had realized that gambling and alcohol was creating a havoc in their life as men squander most of their income between Rs 5000-10,000 on these activities. Men do not spend money for the family on food, on education of their children. The argument increased and one woman slapped this young man saying that you have just come back after gambling. What would you know what is happening in the village.
Women also started discussing the bad effects of ‘ Tadi’ or palm tree, alcohol made in homes in the village. The secretion from this is a psychotic substance and men in the village consume it especially now when the alcohol has been banned in the state. Men do not want to cut this tree. Women said that the tree is dangerous not only for its use as a drug but also because the palm trees attract lightning. In the past in a similar incident the tree had fallen and killed one child in the village.
This was surprising for me. We have been to this community for many times but no one had openly shared about alcohol and gambling in the village. It was for the first time that this came out in public. The community had never shared before but now after this one and half hour meeting from 3 pm to 4:30 pm women had started speaking about it and even started taking action. Also even more surprising was that when the man criticized our organization, I did not have to defend. It was the community women who justified our presence and the importance of the SALT meeting and the man who was arguing had to leave the place. In most cases I have had to defend my organization.
I got a glimpse that these women are capable of tackling their own issues.