BREAKING BARRIERS TO EDUCATION
Santoshi Rajoar lives in Kultard village in Purulia, India, with her husband, 13-year-old daughter, and 10-year-old son.
Before joining Trickle Up’s program, Santoshi’s husband contracted tuberculosis and couldn’t work. In order to take care of him and her two children, Santoshi had to take high-interest loans from moneylenders, and migrated for long periods of time to find paid work in brick kilns in order to pay back her debts. Her children had to travel with her, making it impossible for them to attend school.
Upon joining Trickle Up’s Self-Help Group (SHG) in her village, Santoshi used her seed grant to open a grocery store.
After growing her business, she purchased a second-hand sewing machine for INR 3,000 to increase and diversify her income. She now makes about INR 5,000 a month from the store alone, on average, Santoshi earns INR 50 per day from sewing and INR 150 from the store. In under a year, she has made more than her initial investment. Santoshi’s store has been so successful that she no longer has to go to Purulia, the main town in the area, to purchase supplies. Now, she can call vendors and they will deliver goods directly to her store.
Due to her extra, stable income, Santoshi no longer has to migrate for work and she can afford to send her children to school.
She has even hired a private tutor to help her children catch up in their studies, considering they couldn’t attend school for a significant amount of time due to the family’s labor migration.
Santoshi has also become interested in gender issues because of Trickle Up’s Gender Justice Project.
This project encourages women to share their stories and film each other’s testimonials, spurring social change through communication and breaking down the barriers that make women feel alone and helpless. Her SHG discusses gender-related issues, like domestic violence, child marriage, and equality, every Thursday during their savings group meeting. As a result, she says her perspective on her children has changed. She sees her daughter and son as equals and says she won’t let her daughter marry before age 18.
Santoshi wants to make sure her daughter never feels as though she is another person’s property and wants to ensure she has the same opportunities as her brother.
Santoshi is grateful for her SHG and the opportunity it has given her to take loans with low interest, grow her business, and improve her family’s well-being.
Santoshi Rajoar of Purulia, India
Grocery store owner, seamstress, gender-justice advocate