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Help Rekha buy two more goats and increase her income


Rekha greets you with a great big smile as you enter her house and you instantly feel welcome. She is in a hurry though, between tending to her goats and making lunch before she leaves for her farm. Without wasting much time, she begins to tell you her story. 

Red and white beads. A childhood lost.

She tells you the story of a childhood snatched away too soon. When she was in secondary school, there was a festive ceremony where she was the centre of attention. She was decked out in new clothes and adorned with a string of red and white beads. Excited at first, she slowly realised that it was in fact, her dedication ceremony that marked the start of her life as a Devadasi.  ‘Devadasi’ literally translates to ‘Servant of God’, but what it really meant was that young girls were dedicated to the temple, and exploited and forced to sleep with the temple priests and powerful zamindars that funded the temple. Within a span of days, her life had changed. Instead of worrying about homework and exams, she began to dread the knock on her door, announcing her next visitor.

By the time Rekha was finally rescued from the system, there was a new set of challenges awaiting her. She had two daughters to raise. Being an ex-Devadasi meant that society shunned her, and jobs were hard to come by. Her daughters were discriminated against in school. Determined to do whatever it took to ensure a normal life for her daughters, she did odd jobs on fields as a coolie (labourer). It was rigorous physical labour. But the sense of dignity and freedom she felt from earning even Rs 50-60 at the end of a hard day’s work was unparalleled.

New beginnings

She then began cultivating a small piece of land given to her to supplement her income. She scraped together some of her savings to buy a goat for rearing. Gradually, she added some chickens to the lot. Rekha was soon able to earn enough to not worry where the next meal would come from were she to fall sick and miss work for a day. Her only goal was to keep her daughters in school. "When my elder daughter was born, I promised myself that no matter what, she will not lead the sort of life I have had to live.” She tells you that one of them has completed her B. Ed, and is happily married. The other one is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Arts. You cannot miss the pride in her voice. A single mother, a former Devadasi shunned by society, and two daughters born to her. What chance do they have, most people would say. Yet, Rekha gave them the best possible shot, and the freedom to lead a life of their choice. 

A life of meaning.

At this point, it would have been easy for Rekha to simply pat herself on her back and sit back in contentment. But she wanted more – a life of meaning. She was still angry at what she had been put through. She decided to channel this anger and reach out and see what she could to help women who shared a past like hers. She began to volunteer with an NGO working on AIDS prevention in Belgaum, the Karnataka State Women’s Development Corporation. Everyday, she counsels former Devadasis who got out of the system, but ended up with AIDS. "We women have to look out for each other. The society still shuns us," she says.

Standing proud and tall

Rekha has come a long way from being a young girl who was wronged beyond redemption. She is still restless though. She still does not have enough savings if an emergency were to arise. She worries about getting her younger daughter married. The only solution she knows is to work harder. She wants to rear more goats. She is seeking a loan of Rs 30,000 to buy two goats. True to her spirit, Rekha insists that she only wants a loan that she will repay in 18 months - she does not want charityRekha embodies the spirit of every hard-working single mother, standing proud and tall, in a hurry to do a million things in one go and taking on the world. You see that brilliant smile and feel your own spirit soar.

Who we are helping

Biba Hanumanth Mang
Kempavva Sanjay Kamble

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raised of Rs.30,000 goal

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Supporters (5)

Sonali lent $100
Mahak lent Rs.5,000
Jeevan lent Rs.24,500