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The Story of Ajmeri Gate - from Individuals to a Community

From a housewife to an Ananya Award Winner on International Women’s Day 2006, Mrs ARCHANA GUPTA has traversed a long path. She manages 55 SHG’s each with 15-20 women. Her son is studying engineering and her daughter is a BCom student.  She is active in the ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) Mid Day Meal programmes associated with INDCARE in Delhi. Her potential was first tapped by Mrs Reeva Sood Executive Director of INDCARE in 2001. Back then she had been a housewife for fourteen years and now she is a confident woman. She actively voices her opinions on various woman right issues with policy makers.

Archana GuptaArchana Gupta receiving the Award 

However Mrs Archana’s success has not been alone; with her has developed the entire community of AJMERI GATE. Once upon a time in the neighborhood of Ajmeri Gate the women did not know the name of their neighbors. They lived in joint families and that is all what kept them occupied. Then in 2001 INDCARE came into their lives. Mrs Archana formed a small SHG comprising of her vicinity members. They took a meager loan of Rs. 26000 with each beneficiary getting Rs 2000 only. From there started a trend, and today within eight years 80% of the neighborhood women are taking loans from INDCARE. This year they received a loan of Rs 1.5 crores with each beneficiary getting Rs. 25000.  Today these women very proudly call themselves a part of their Mahila Chetna a federation for the promotion of entrepreneur activities. They are confident to handle cash and can use the banking system. INDCARE does not only give them loans but also imparts them knowledge about their rights, freedoms and available opportunities. The women have raised their voices on crucial matters such as widow and old age pensions, girl’s marriage allowance, sanitation and many other needs. However what is most remarkable is the way they have grown as a community. There are no defaulters in this area. If one woman fails to pay the others in the SHG pay for her and she pays them back. Each one is there for another. Each SHG has a bank account and can inter lend within the federation. They have no hierarchy, everyone is considered equal. They call themselves ‘bhabhis’ and ‘didis’ thus designations are given according to age and respect. At first the men had trepidations in their women leaving the house but as their family income rose they had no objection. Today the women not only discuss household issues in their social gatherings, but also discuss new pension schemes, income appraisal opportunities and interest rates. The community is held together on the basis of utual benefit, trust and respect. The story of Ajmeri Gate is a classic example of SOLIDARITY LANDING where individuals form communities.

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