Scaling up: from a Dalit untouchable to a well-respected family in the village #ifadscale

Ratnamma (second from right) joins panel discussion on
'scaling up' at IFAD headquarters. ©IFAD

On 6 February 2013, IFAD held a panel discussion on "Scaling up from the perspective of our partners". This event brought together representatives form India, Argentina and Sao Tome who shared their respective models of scaling up. 

We had the honour and pleasure of having  Ratnamma - an extraordinary empowered lady.  Ratnamma's inspiring story  touched everyone's heart and soul.  Yesterday afternoon, my lovely colleague Clare Bishop Sambrook, IFAD's Senior Technical Adviser for gender, empowerment and social inclusion stopped by to share her this marvelous and moving poem.  I am sure this masterpiece will bring to life Ratnamma's story and touch your hearts and souls.
Thank you Clare for sharing this.

Scaling up: from a Dalit untouchable to a well-respected family in the village
by Clare Bishop Sambrook

The process of
Is real

Married at 13
Five children by 22
Husband trapped as a bonded labourer
Unable to feed her family
Unable to send her children to school
Unable to protect the health of her daughter
Unable to access government services
Only able to exist at the margin

Not only poor but also a Dalit
Unable to walk through the village wearing shoes
Unable to drink from a cup
Unable to leave her head uncovered
Unable to raise her head

Not confident that the self-help group was for her
Nothing to save
Nothing to give
A life of exclusion

Joining the self-help group
Became the entry point
For life on the pathway to change

A group loan freed her husband from bonded labour
A campaign freed her daughter from child labour
The self-help group federation school freed her children from a life of survival

And her own life became one that would have been unrecognisable
A leader of a group of 15 women
A president of the federation of 9000 women
A community resource person
A business woman
A mother of children with professional qualifications and formal employment

But change is more than  money
Life is also about love and affection from members
The pleasure of gifts from her children
And sharing this journey with other poor women.