Sharda is a 47-year-old year woman who resides in the Kusumpuri Pahari Slum community. She is a hardworking and self-made woman who likes to do social work. However, things were not easy for Sharda while growing up. Her parents were migrants from Faizabad, Uttar Pradesh in the 1970s who had settled in Dakshinpuri, Delhi. Her mother had 4 children, eldest daughter being Sharda. However, her parent’s marriage did not last long as her father eloped and remarried a woman from that area.
Her father’s second marriage became a curse to her family. His meagre earnings of Rs.200 (2.81 USD/ 2.14 £) a month was divided between 2 families making their lives even more difficult. With the family falling apart, her mother was forced to return back to her village while her four children stayed back with their father. Due to overwhelming financial issues, Sharda and her siblings discontinued their studies after the 10th standard.
At the young age of 13-14, Sharda and her siblings started doing odd jobs to run the household. Sharda was a good seamstress and started earning Rs.50 (0.70 cents USD/ 0.53p £) a week. At the age of 17 years, she was married to her husband of 20 years. After marriage they settled down in Kusumpur Pahadi in the year 1991. Sharda’s husband worked as a private gardener earning a sum of Rs. 900 (12.65 USD/ 9.61 £) a month. Soon, she gave birth to 2 sons and her family grew.
In the year 1998, Asha entered Kusumpur Pahari slum community. Asha team members went around the community motivating women to visit Asha and join the Mahila Mandal (Women’s Group). Soon, Sharda joined Asha and there was no looking back. She was a self-empowered woman who was inclined to community service, the job of a CHV (Community Health Volunteer) was tailor-made for her. She went through the CHV training successfully and joined Asha as an employee for the next 3 years.
As an Asha team member, Sharda worked tirelessly to improve the conditions of healthcare and education within the slum community. She went around the community and made slum dwellers understand the importance of vaccinations, cleanliness, etc. Sharda was also responsible for accompanying women to government hospitals nearby for operations such as Tubectomy, etc. Along with promoting awareness, Sharda also provided knowledge about various diseases and counselling on family planning to the slum dwellers. With her dedication and assistance, Asha was able to breach into Kusumpur Pahari slum effectively and collect members for their Mahila Mandal (Women’s Association) and Bal Mandal (Children’s Association).
With time, Sharda’s family took priority and she had to discontinue working for Asha. However, the spirit of community service did not die within her and she continued social work within her block. Today, Sharda is a respected member of her slum community who continues working for social causes within her block as much as she can. ‘I remember a time where I was scared to even step out of the house alone. Today I am so empowered that I am not scared of any place or anyone anymore. Working for Asha has changed my life and opened the gates to limitless possibilities for me as a woman in my society.’ says Sharda with a big smile on her face. Sharda is currently visiting local government officials in her area to start a project that improves and rebuilds the roads within her community. She believes she still has a long way to go and there is no stopping her.