Women are not only more likely to be the primary caregivers in a family but, increasingly, primary breadwinners, too. One such woman, Rama Sardar of Katolia village, Domjur, Howrah Dist, along with her husband Buddhadeb Sardar, was living in extreme poverty. She recalled the days when she and her husband were living in a small hut (Dorma house). Her husband was a daily labor but his income was not sufficient to make both ends meet. Then, a representative of VFS came to her house with the promise to help her by providing small loans, ideas and proper skill development training through its microfinance initiative . She joined a women’s self-help group in her village and took a small loan of Rs. 5000 in the year 2010 from VFS with a strong desire to stand upright in society. With this amount, she started a job of decorating houses during different festivals by cutting patterns out of thermocol . Then to extend the business, she took 5th cycles of loans of Rs. 10000/- , Rs.15000/- , Rs.20000 and Rs. 22000/-, respectively, during the period 2011-2016. Now, she is getting orders for decorating pandals on occasions like weddings, pujas etc. She has built a larger living space (pakka bari) for her growing family. She has also opened a shop and named it ‘Pushpa Art Centre’.

Rama and the women in her self-help group still have a long way to go. Yet this is a remarkable story of empowerment through collective action. The confidence these women had cultivated over time carries as much currency as their earnings. It inspired them to organize themselves and work hard towards building a better future. Now, Roma expresses her deep gratitude to VFS. In her words, it would have never been possible without the support from VFS.