Courage and Tenacity Embodied - Sarita Devi Sen

It is said that when an individual is exposed to adversity, they are challenged into situations which encourage them to deliver and conduct themself in accordance. The story of Sarita Devi Sen bears testimony to this adage.

Sarita Devi was leading a life of reasonable comfort and happiness. Her husband, with whom she had four children- three sons and one daughter, was working as an unskilled laborer in Saudi Arabia. Though she did not have any formal education, she was able to manage the household and care for her children.

However, adversity befell her family when they received the tragic news of the death of her husband, Bhupendra Kumar Sen. As if this was not enough, shortly after the husband’s demise, Sarita Devi was diagnosed with Glaucoma and this resulted in the total loss of her eyesight when she was all of 23 years.

She was only getting used to surviving with the disease when, her husband’s brothers separated from the family and took away a major portion of their house. Thankfully for her, her father-in- law agreed to support her with the meager earnings he made dispensing native medicines, but the amount was grossly inadequate to sustain the family of five—four children and the blind mother.

Sarita Devi was in a pathetic condition when the Lions field workers first met with her in January, 2014. She was around 30 at that time. She had close to nothing to look forward to and the bleak future of her young children haunted her.

The field workers from the Lions Clubs were challenged to persuade Sarita Devi to receive training and break the rural stigma that rural women are not considered fit for training or to conduct other economic activities.

However, it was not long before she, and her guardian father-in- law agreed to co-operate, for Sarita to receive training under the project. In the months to come, Sarita Devi would prove to be the perfect example of woman rehabilitation in a village, with the support from the village head.

Sarita was provided orientation, mobility and daily living skill training, which gave her the confidence and inspiration to undertake daily tasks. This was able to help her move about, using the cane, instilling a new found belief in her abilities.

Since Sarita had already been managing activities single handedly, the training was only practice to reinstate her responsibilities and counsel her to improve her speed and dexterity.

The final challenge was to test the training and her to prove that she could very well manage the household on her own, and care for her aging father-in- law and children.

The field workers facilitated the training to help Sarita run a small shop for her to make a living. She was also provided with an interest free loan of Rs. 12,000, which drove her to independence and self-reliance.

Today, Sarita Devi is able to earn an income of Rs. 2400 to 2800 per month from the shop and has also put her children back into school.

Sarita Devi has a strong message to those like her, she says, “We have to fend for ourselves and not depend on others. Nobody will come help you, unless you try to help yourself, first!”

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