Proud-Persistent-Passionate-Pioneer: Premlata
-Saroj Kumar and Deepshikha Gupta, Katoria, Bihar

Fig. Premlata Tudu taking providing training to villagers on welfare of livestock

Premlata Tudu resides in the quiet village of Tetariya, Bihar. While the surroundings were serene, there was a tsunami residing inside the heart of Premlata Tudu – a tsunami of determination to improve her family's situation, her source of livelihood, and to make a name for herself. At the beginning of it all!

The story begins amidst the humble surroundings of rural life, where the sun kisses the green fields and the winds carry tales of resilience. Premlata, like many others, eked out a living from the land during the kharif season. Yet, as the seasons changed, so did her struggles. From the backbreaking labor of a small farmer with a landholding of around 1.5 acres to the harsh realities of carrying bricks as a daily wage laborer, Premlata faced each challenge with unwavering determination.

Fig. Premlata Tudu working on her land


However, fate had more trials in store. Her spouse, Jharna Murmu, driven by the desperation for better opportunities, set forth on a journey of migration to Pune, Maharashtra, leaving Premlata to navigate the hardships of rural life alone. The separation weighed heavily on her heart, but she persevered, holding onto the hope of a brighter future for her family.

Despite toiling all day, the annual family income could not cross the threshold of INR 20,000. And things STARTed to change; for better! Amidst the chaos of her circumstances, Premlata found solace and purpose in the role of an
Anganwadi Sevika. Though the meager earnings of INR 500/month barely scratched the surface of her family's needs, it was a stepping stone towards economic betterment and her empowerment. But it was in 2018, with the intervention of PRADAN under the START (Stimulating Tribal and Rural Transformation) project in collaboration with RBL Bank Ltd, that Premlata embraced the work of a Pashu Sakhi. She underwent rigorous training under the project, slowly but steadily mastering the art of animal health care. With her newfound expertise in deworming, vaccination, and first aid treatments, Premlata emerged as a ray of hope for livestock owners in her community.

She also took the lead in creating three Producer Groups (PGs) namely, Jamuna PG, Nisha and Asha
PG to bring livestock rearers at one place and collectively discuss the benefits, struggles, and selling
of the same for enhanced family income.

Though, the journey wasn’t an easy one.
“Mujhe toh likhna padhna bhi nai aata tha, shuruaat mein mujhe laga mai nai kar paungi ye kaam, lekin PRADAN sanstha ki madad, START project ke andar mili prashikshan se maine dheere dheere bahut kuch seekh lia. Pehle gaon wale vishwas nai karte the, ab pashuon ka doctor bulate hain!” (I didn’t even know how to read and write. Initially, I was not sure if I would be able to take up this work, but with the support provided by PRADAN and the START project, I started learning things slowly. Earlier, the villagers didn’t trust me, but now they call me the doctor and friend to animals), says a proud Premlata Tudu.

Her own Livestock
While taking care of the livestock of the entire village, Premlata has also been working on her own livestock. Before intervention, she had just one mother goat, but now she has six goats and plans to increase the number up to 15 in the near future.

Fig. Premlata Tudu with her own livestock

At the village level, the intervention has helped increase the number of goats to two on an average per family, making it a total of 200 goats. She further plans to increase it to four goats per family and 400 goats in the village for annual income enhancement for each family as well as herself. There are also plans to reduce the mortality rate up to 2% and to increase the size of her livestock herd.

The Impact: Financial and Social
The impact of Premlata’s efforts ripples far beyond her home, resonating in the villages of Tetariya, Gharchappa, Buttudih, Teliyadih, Lakarma, and Dhebakuliya. Villagers affectionately call her Janwaro ki Doctorni, a testament to her expertise and compassion in animal care.

Fig. Premlata Tudu providing animal care services

Also, with a post-intervention annual income of INR 55,000, her family thrives, and her spouse stands by her side, united in their pursuit of a better life.

Leading by Example
Premlata’s vision extends beyond her own household; she dreams of a future where every family in her village experiences the same prosperity. Her journey was(is) not merely about financial gain; it is also about empowerment and self- discovery. With each passing day, Premlata is shattering the shackles of illiteracy and self-doubt,
emerging as a leader in her own right.