Through our work, we get to meet all kinds of women, bold and brave, courageous and resilient. They all have different tales to share, but what binds them together are their enduring spirits and warm smiles. Be they mothers, daughters, or teachers, female entrepreneurs are setting an inspiration within their communities and motivating entire generations to follow in their footsteps.
FXB India Suraksha (FXBIS) believes that communities are strongest when women, children and their families lead self-reliant and empowered lives — here at FXBIS, we believe in empowering women, empowering families, and empowering generations.
In honor of International Women’s Day (March 8) this year, we celebrate some of the beautifully bold women around us who are making the world better for their families and their communities.
Radha K. in Tamil Nadu
An empowered entrepreneur: Radha, 24 years old, is living with her husband, two sons, a daughter, and her mother-in-law in Mathur Periya in Tamil Nadu. As a housewife, she was solely involved in domestic chores and was absolutely unaware of current world affairs. Upon attending a village meeting organized by FXB India Suraksha however, she was introduced to the manual production of coir ropes. “I attended a workshop of coir product organized at Kazuperumpakkam…I was amazed to see the huge machine used to produce the same rope,” says Radha.
Today, Radha is an empowered entrepreneur and an inspiration to many. “We have taken over the unit and are running them on our own, maintaining the books of accounts and making a good profit that we share evenly amongst ourselves. I feel proud that I am supporting my family equally with my earnings. I feel proud to be an empowered woman today, and I thank FXB India Suraksha for supporting this journey", she adds.
P. Prabha in Tamil Nadu
Master trainer and role model: As a widow survived by her son and daughter, Prabha, 40 years lives in Mathur Periya Colony of Tamil Nadu. “I can’t explain how dark my life was when my husband departed from me five years ago. I was completely helpless. I didn’t have any job, no skill to work and earn and no money for our living. There were days when we spent nights without dinner.” Says Prabha.
It was around this time that Prabha participated in an entrepreneurship meeting organized by FXBIS. Despite initial reservations, Prabha tentatively joined the sanitary napkin production training group. “With fear and anxiety, I attended a one week training following an exposure visit to a similar unit in Villupuram. Today, I am a master trainer in sanitary napkin production. I make at least 150 sanitary pads a day and earn about Rs. 170/- on a daily basis. I have repaired my house and my roof no longer leaks. My children are in school. I am delighted and surprised where and what I am today…the “NOs” a couple of years back is all “YES” today. I have saved a good amount of money for the wedding of my daughter,” she says.
Andal in Andhra Pradesh
A new life: Andal, who hails from Visakhapatnam district in Andhra Pradesh, encourages people to come to the FXB India Suraksha Care and Support Program Centre. She ensures people remain engaged once they arrive. Though Andal is not literate, she recognizes 'word pictures' and points to information on the chart.
Andal and her husband were childless, so the couple decided to adopt a girl child. Without warning however, her husband fell ill, his condition worsening with each passing day. Due to a wrong diagnosis, he steadily lost a lot of weight and could barely work. When Andal and his husband tested positive for HIV, the world collapsed around them. They had countless questions, but no answers. When they were directed to the Care and Support Program Centre, Andal said that “entering the door of the centre was like walking into a new life.” The couple was counseled, provided ART, and provided supplementary nutrition. Slowly but surely, their CD4 counts began to rise and Andal's husband was soon able to get back to work. Seeing Andal's instant rapport with people and her potential to counsel, FXBIS took her into the program as a full time staff member. She says that the love, respect, care and acceptance at the centre were largely responsible for patients’ quick recovery.
Goldy Chingakham in Manipur
Against all odds: Goldy Chingakham is the only daughter of Ms. Sulochana Devi. She is from Singjamei Chingamathak Thokchom Leikai in Imphal West, Manipur. Goldy has no recollection of her father, who passed away when she was hardly two years old. She has been told that her father died of AIDS and her mother is infected with the same virus. Her childhood was tough as there were times when she was not allowed to intermingle and play with other children in the neighborhood, since others suspected she was infected as well. Goldy has seen her mother struggling to maintain the family by weaving. Her father’s lubricant shop business collapsed after he died. Ms. Sulochana couldn’t continue it due to the stigma and discrimination of a widow actively working.
Goldy is one of the Suraksha Youth Club members. As a result of FXB’s engagement, she has now completed her higher secondary education and is preparing to pursue a medical career. Goldy always takes part in the major events hosted by FXBIS in Manipur, and she has even performed as an anchor of the documentary film showcasing the FXBVillage network.
Sulochana in Manipur
From despair to triumph: A few months after marriage, Sulochana came to know that her husband used to be a drug user and regressed into old habits from time to time. Sulochana and the family tried their best to rehabilitate him, but poor peer networks and readily available cash made a complete recovery difficult. Their first son was born in 1996, but he did not survive for more than a year due to serious health conditions. After giving birth to her second child (Goldy), Sulochana lost her husband and became a widow. With the help of some friends, both mother and child were taken for testing in a facility in Imphal. Sulochana was found to be HIV infected, but Goldy was thankfully immune.
Sulochana eventually started working as a volunteer for the FXB program and soon became a counselor and senior social worker, functioning as a role model who has been widowed, infected with HIV, and still thrived for more than 15 years now. She has been trained and empowered to impart psychosocial support to the vulnerable infected/affected beneficiaries. She organizes advocacy and awareness sensitization programs and also facilitates Self Help Groups.
Manipur has been identified as one of the highest HIV-prevalent states in the country. Sulochana has pledged to utilize her full potential in filling the crucial role of implementing the FXBIS programs relating to nutrition, education, medical care, livelihood promotion, and sensitization.