From Pandariapthra to Paris, France
Pandaripathra is no more unheard village in India; it got wide publicity at both national and international levels, thanks to the exemplary work of Good Shepherd Sisters and the young charming woman, Bisto Bai Meravi.
Pandaripathra is a small, remote and far off village in Balaghat district of Madhya Pradesh, India where Bisto Bai along with 150 women members of a Cooperative Society, work together for the welfare of the entire community.
Hailing from a tribal community known as Gond tribe, Bisto and her community have been away from the mainstream. Residing adjacent to forest areas the community has not been touched by the modern development initiatives as they are far from their reach.
Like other tribal women, Bisto was spending most of her time with her family doing the household chores. However, the turning point came in October 2015, when a women empowerment project was launched in her area. She joined a Self Help Group (SHG) and undertook goat rearing business to support her family. Soon she began to realize the distant dream coming closer.
She was nominated and elected as the President of the SHG. She always encouraged all the members to take part in various activities undertaken by the SHG. She started saving, and then attending various workshops and training programs under the women empowerment project implemented in her village. Through the training programs and workshops, she gained knowledge on socio-economic and women related issues. She started sensitizing women about their rights, health, education, human trafficking and government schemes.
Though she was a Ward Member (village council member), it was her husband who used to be involved in the village decision making meetings in her name. However, her involvement in the SHG, and later in Women’s Cooperative, enabled her to develop confidence and boldness to bring women's issues in the local Gram Sabha. Due to her lobbying, various government schemes have been implemented in her village like new and improved houses, toilets, public well, watershed activities, improved roads, etc.
The journey had started and she never looked back. She became the President of Dindayal Antyoday Mahila Bahu Uddesshiya Sahakari Samiti (Women Multi-purpose Cooperative Society) with a view to take it forward. Bisto Bai worked efficiently with her husband and initiated goat rearing which successfully transformed her farm to a low-cost model goat-rearing farm within a short span of time. Bisto Bai’s thriving goat farm has ensured that her family has sufficient income to cater to their family needs, especially food throughout the year. Bisto gained respect of the other women who have undertaken goat-rearing activity. The villagers and other co-beneficiaries consider her as a role model and they are inspired by her dynamic and humane personality.
Her first visit to Paris was a remarkable experience, which she will never forget. She was accompanied by Sr. Precilla, Superior of Good Shepherd Sisters, Garratola, Mr. Alex Kurian, Project Coordinator of Economic Justice Project for the Stop Hunger Woman Award 2019 at donor dinner on 12 March 2019.
On March 12, 2019, at the Stop Hunger Donors Evening, in the presence of 700 donors and partners, volunteers and representatives of local and international associations at the Seine Musicale, Bisto Bai Meravi was recognized for leading a true social and solidarity organization named Deen Dayal Antyoday Mahila Bahu Uddeshiya Sahakari Samiti, Garratola. She received the award on behalf of 150 women who are engaged in diverse income generation programmes to stop hunger and address food security issues in the Birsa Block of Balaghat District Madhya Pradesh, India. Apart from Bisto Bai Meravi, Sister Angélique Namaika from Congo, Elizabeth Nalugemwa, from Uganda and Elizabeth Frank and Gabrielle Wimer from Guatemala were also awarded. Bisto received € 19,080 in donation to support their outstanding efforts.
The amount which she received will be utilized for the empowerment of women, village development and addressing climate change and food security issues in the Birsa Block. Efforts will be made to expand the cooperative from 150 women to 1000 women to ensure the sustainability.
It was a great feeling to arrive in Paris and see the city of light – a modern city with a very deep sense of history. We will never forget when we first drove through, passing the canals and seeing the monuments. It was like a huge open-air museum. It was all like love at first sight.
We stayed in Paris for 6 days and had a wonderful time. We loved everything about this romantic city and would always love to visit again if get an opportunity.
We are pleased, honored and humbled to accept this award and to join past recipients who did outstanding work for their respective communities.
We are grateful to many people who have enabled us to reach this international platform. Thanks to Sr. Sabina, Ms Theresa Symons, Mr. Satyan, Sr. Aruna, Mr. John, Mr. Nagarjun, Good Shepherd Sisters, GSIF, Members of the Women Cooperative, Garratola and most importantly Stop Hunger. This award particularly recognizes our collective effort and it also gives us more responsibilities of the furtherance of our efforts.
Click here - Bisto Bai Meravi Photos from the Awards Ceremony