Bihar girl wins International Acclaim for up lifting uplift the Musahar community
A 20-year-old Bihari girl has won international acclaim for her efforts to uplift the Musahar community. Musahars are traditionally rat-catchers and found in the eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and north Madhya Pradesh. The Musahars of Bihar are marginalized and work mainly as landless labourers. They suffer from abject poverty, near-total illiteracy and lack of personal hygiene and sanitation. Child marriages are pretty common and school attendance is hardly of any note. Choti Kumari Singh, hailing from an impoverished upper caste Rajput family, has won ‘Women’s Creativity in Rural Life Award” from the Switzerland-based Women’s World Summit Foundation.
She started helping the Musahars in her village of Ratanpur socially and by providing education after joining a programme run by the Mata Amritanandamayi Math of the spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma). The Math’s programme aimed at adopting 101 villages across the country and making them self-reliant models of sustainability. Choti Kumari is the youngest person to have received the USD 1,000 (Rs 65,000 approx.) award since 1994 when it was instituted to honour women around the world. The award is given to women who exhibit exceptional creativity, courage, and commitment to the improvement of the quality of life in rural villages.
The tuition classes proved to a huge success with 108 children enrolled. This is no mean task in a village with a population of less than 1,000 people. “Initially, the Musahar villagers were hostile. They used to drink, gamble and verbally abuse me. However, once they started observing the positive changes brought by our work, the situation became relatively favourable,” Choti recalls.
Choti initiated self-help groups wherein every woman saves Rs 20 a month, which is deposited in a common bank account for starting home-based activities.