Living in the Titagarh area, Kolkata, Zaria Khatoon, 35 years, strives her way up the ladder and is an example for each woman in her area. Born amidst extreme poverty where her father passed away when she was only five years old, Zaria supported her family by making paper bags with her mother. She was the eldest in her family consisting of three brothers and three sisters. She remained uneducated and helped her brothers and sister to gain education. Zaria was married at the age of 17 years. Her husbands used to cut glasses and sell it in the market but the earning remained very low. It was very difficult to have even two course meal properly in the house. Then Zaria gave birth to three daughters and basic necessities for survival became impossible to gain. At that time Zaria thought of making small handicraft using the glass which her husband used to cut. But, the purchasing of raw materials to make such handicraft was not possible with the family income which was around Rs. 1,000 per month at that time. During this time she heard of microfinance organization which operates in her area from her neighbors and also heard the kind of changes her neighbor was making in her life through the business she was doing after gaining the loan from the microfinance institution. She went for a group meeting after consulting her husband and joined the group immediately. The first loan she received was Rs. 5,000, through which she bought the raw materials which she used to make the handicrafts. Her husband supported her by cutting and providing her glasses through which she makes beautiful glass houses, boats, peacocks and sells in the market. Slowly her income started increasing and thus, she wanted to expand her business and thus, got her second loan of Rs. 9,000.00 through which she bought more raw materials and now sold her materials in fairs, different houses and also various markets. Today, Zaria earns Rs. 8, 000.00 per month with the help of her husband which was Rs.1, 000.00 per month earlier.

IMPACT: Zaria Khatoon is now a self independent woman and working and supporting her husband. She is an example for all the Muslim women. Now, she sends all her daughters to school. Her elder daughter also helps in the art of making handicrafts. “The Micro Finance Institution of our area changes the life of many poor women like me and I am living with my self dignity,” – Zaria Khatun expressed with joy. Her elder daughter shared, “we are getting facility of regular health check up with subsidized medicine paying only Rs.150.00 yearly once for our entire family benefit.”

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