Who am I?
This morning my eyes were wide open earlier than ever before. I woke up with a feeling I could not recognize. My toes tingled, my head spinned. I closed my eyes trying to block out the few rays of sun peeking through the hole in the brick wall.
The sun filled me up with a warm bubbly feeling of excitement. I couldn’t stop smiling. The first Wawcas meeting was ahead.
Today I get to meet the other women, who were in the same situation as I. Thousands of questions piled up. What were their stories? Would they like me? Would anyone cry? Would we be able to help each other out and create new opportunities?
The twenty minutes walk had never felt so short.The first impression was breathtaking. It was like looking in a mirror and seeing my own reflection in the eyes of the women. Mamata greeted us and we introduced ourselves with a devoted “Namaste” and a short presentation. Some looked very nervous and almost frightened, others were laughing and talking. I felt alive and eager to start the Wawcas programme. Mamata presented us with our first task – the economic status ranking.
We were told to rank ourselves within the three different categories; ultra poor, poor and medium poor and afterwards requested to express our opinions of indicators of being poor in the village. After setting indicators we discussed how we defined a well-off family in the village.
We had very different looks upon a well-off family. I define it as a family having opportunities and being able to fulfill daily needs. Going to bed every night feeling satisfied and never hungry. Having the opportunities to provide your children with an education and safety. It became clear to me that well-off is an individual term and others had a different understanding. For some it meant having my opportunities, getting away from the streets and take the risk of leaving violent husbands or being able to pay for medicine. Everyone agreed that greater independence in some extent would improve our quality of life.
It was difficult to rank oneself according to the different categories, but then I remembered the feeling I’ve had in ages. Begging for food and days of procrastination. At the same time I feel blessed with a roof over my head, clothes to keep warm, love from my family and days with actual nutritious food. I wouldn’t put the ultra poor label on myself: I’ve seen people in my village, sleeping in the streets with no home and only having what’s given to them by others. In comparison to others in the group and my village, my family and I are poor. My husband’s job provide us enough food for 4 out of 7 days a week. The rest of the days we go to bed with hunger. We’ve build our house with our bare hands with the money we had, but changes in the weather along with environmental events have taken its toll on the house. The cracks are getting bigger and raindrops wakes my daughter up at night. A little economic stability would have a huge impact. My career could improve our quality of life and the safety for my children.
But what do I have to offer in this group? How can I impact my own economic status? I hope the next months can guide me.