Monika Sahu, devoted Cadre at Self-Help Groups (SHGs) and President of Gram Sangathan (village organisation) organised by Pradan, was once thought of as ‘a defective piece’ by her in-laws, due to her sickly constitution.
Born in Daspur and raised by her grandparents in Kondagaon, Chhattisgarh, Monika has been educated until the eighth grade, and was married off at the age of 20. Fueled by the tension at home, she became a member of SHG and started dedicating her time to on-ground work, and now looks after the agricultural needs of the village.
When discussing the challenges faced by the villagers during the lockdown, she describes the unease in the air. “Abrupt fights would break out over money. There would be an uproar if any person from outside the village travelled in for business. With work coming to a stand-still, there is bound to be much tension. A lot of women had to approach the SHGs themselves for loans, and then were steeped in anxiety about how they would go about repaying them.”
She talks about her life during the lockdown. “I felt purposeless in the initial days of the lockdown. All I did was cook and play with the children in my neighbourhood. As soon as I heard I could go out on my work again, I started finishing my household chores early. I went around the village to spread awareness about the virus and the pandemic by painting information on walls. We would write about how the virus was spreading and the necessary precautionary measures. We even started using the megaphones to spread awareness!”