I wasn't able to meet Siamiv, the group leader of Piani group but met another group member, Piani instead. She lives in a small house in Bethlam area in Aizawl. It was difficult to find her place, but people know her well as she works as a helper in the Anganwadi center in Bethlam. Her house was small but had just about everything one might need to live modestly.
Piani is a mother of four, two sons and two daughters. Her eldest son has just turned eighteen and is learning to drive, so that he could take up a job and contribute to the family income. Her youngest daughter attends kindergarten. The other son and daughter study in 9th and 2nd grade. Piani's husband passed away two years ago and she is taking care of the family since then. Though her house is small, it's neatly decorated with wall hangings and door mats which Piani has weaved herself. When I ask her how her business is going, she happily opens up a trunk which contains woolen shoes, slippers, doormats, wall hangings, purses, bags and table cloths, which she had woven herself. She tells me how she can weave almost anything and everything. She either gets orders from her friends in the neighborhood or sometimes shopkeepers. When she doesn't get orders to make things, she takes a risk and buys raw materials. After making different items, she even goes around selling them door to door to earn money. It gets difficult to sustain in such situations.
Piani with her daughter, showing off the shoe and doormat she weaved
Piani works as a helper in the Anganwadi center near her house. She does the cleaning and cooking there. When her work ends in the afternoon, she comes back home to finish the daily chores at home. She says that she starts weaving in the evening and continues to do it through the night. Piani happily adds that now she is able to save around Rs 3000 monthly which was not possible earlier.The loan helped her buy raw materials in bulk and experiment with different products. As I gathered my things to leave, Piani gifts me one of the small bags that she had weaved earlier. When I insisted that I'll pay for it, one of her daughter explained to me in English that I should take it as a present. That beautiful gift made made me smile the entire day.
Just like Piani'a smile never fades, you can also add smiles on several such faces and become an important part of their lives through your contributions.