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Maya has a new shop

A women covering her head with the saree she wearing, sitting on a tricycle in front of her petty shop
© CBM India
Maya in front of her new shop

The changes that a house, a kitchen garden and the faces of a family that is working towards a better future can undergo in just six months are hard to express through words. These small changes with big impact in the life of a poor family and the wider community are a proof that when persons with disabilities drive the change, impact and sustainability become the cornerstones of change.

Life in transformation

A young girl and her mother setting inside a petty shop ©CBM India
Maya with her daughter inside her new shop. She has recently got this much awaited asset to sell organic produce that she packages
Maya Devi, 36, is a single mother of four and the family’s breadwinner. Poliomyelitis infection at the age of five affected her with neuromuscular paralysis, taking away her ability to stand or walk independently. 

Maya lives in Medada Koiri Tola village of District Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh and has been associated with CBM supported disability inclusive organic agriculture and livelihood project. 

Dressed is bright yellow Sari, a traditional India dress, she is anxious and excited as she has a lot to share. She has just got her elder daughter married, all by herself, and is now investing in the education of her younger daughters. 

For a single woman with a disability, her story is inspiring. But today, she is in a celebratory mood and there are many reasons for this, as becomes apparent with Maya bursting into a conversation.

“Did you notice my new tricycle? We got it only a month back. The last one was broken and I had been using it for over 10 years!” said Maya, running her hands over the burgundy coloured improvised wheelchair that many persons with disabilities use in the region to navigate a very uneven ground in the village and nearby fields.

She then went on to explain the entire process through which she and hundreds of other persons with disabilities in the villages nearby recently received aids and appliances. Maya was connected with the project over three years back and has since become a leader of the local Disabled Peoples’ Organisation (DPO). She is also a member of the farmer interest group that works supports farmers in production and sale of organic produce. The groups are inclusive and have both disabled and non-disabled people as its members. 

“We know what our entitlements are and work closely with government officials to get them. The disability certificates and aids and appliances that we go through the recent event came after a lot of lobbying by the group,” she added.

The fact that Maya decided to first share the success she and hundreds of other persons with disabilities had are indicative of a much-empowered outlook and why she is seen as a leader.

A milestone

A woman holding vegetables in her hand ©CBM India
Maya holding vegetables grown in her organic kitchen garden
The last time we met Maya in May of 2016, she talked ferquently about her desire to scale up her operation of packaging organic produce that she sells in the local market and to the community in the village. 

Her training in organic farming methods given under the CBM supported project have helped her revive the productivity of a small family land that she has. The land now offers them food security and an income due to reduced cost of inputs. Organic methods, like manure and bio-pesticides, reduce the cost of farming and are safe to work with.   

Maya’s dreams at that point of time were based on a small table inside her mud and brick house with a limited number of things on sale – ranging from the mustard paste to organic honey.

“I have a real shop now. It is made of solid wood, set on a platform and it has doors that I can lock,” Maya said briefing us on her new asset with a sense of pride in her voice. The shop is right outside her house and has been financed through a group loan and her own savings.

“The customers take me seriously now. I can move in into the shop easily from my tricycle (improvised wheelchair). There is a lot of space to store more items for sale,” she said sitting inside the shop with her younger daughter. 

The smiling mother and daughter duo then called out to one of the neighbours passing by and asked her to buy a packet of turmeric powder. The two wanted to demonstrate how actively they engage with customers.

“I am happy with the way things are turning out. More and more women with disabilities are getting inspired by what we are doing here. This success is important to change the negative mindset community has about persons with disabilities,” Maya added, as she joined a group of women seated on the ground for a catch-up.

Related Story

Maya's Story

Maya is an inspired champion of economic empowerment for people with disabilities in her village

24-06-2016


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