Mohammad Akram/ New Delhi
Afsana along with her husband Mohammad Ayub have set up stalls at the Saras Aajeevika Mela in Noida Haat, which is a short distance from the capital Delhi. Afsana told Awaz-The Voice that she wanted to start her business after she married Mohammad Ayub but her in-laws did not accept it.
She says that at that time “my husband also left me and after six months I was thrown out of the house, but I was adamant because I had financial problems in front of me, which I wanted to end.” However, this too was not acceptable to her husband's family. After a few months, however, due to her persevearance her in-laws had to accept defeat. After that, her husband also supported her and Afsanma felt encouraged.
Afsana says that she started her business in the year 2003 with only Rs 3000. Every morning she used to go from village to village with clothes on her head and return home in the evening, “ I cannot even describe the way I have lived my life.”
She adds, “In 2003, when I thought that I should make and sell clothes myself, I formed a self-help group for this and after reaching home from Delhi, I started getting clothes made by artisans. Today it is by the grace of Allah that I am earning lakhs of rupees annually, once even the government also gave me a grant of five thousand rupees.”
Afsana told Awaz the Voice, “I keep famous cities like Delhi, Chennai, Patna, Mumbai, Uttarakhand, Dehradun etc.”
Afsana Khatoon, remembering her past days, gets emotional and says, “there was a time when there was no roof to sleep on. I have three children who are doing good in their lives.” She says the way the group has helped her and others in growing is commendable, “I have given my heart and soul to my group.” She says that “The world will be spared, but our group will not be spared.”
How many people are currently working with your group? In response to this question, Afsana Khatoon says that at present 400 women are working together in her group. Many groups have been formed in one group and many women are associated with that group.
Afsana's husband Mohammad Ayub told that only handmade clothes are available here. People in and around Rampur are doing this work at their homes, “When my wife wanted to work outside the house, we felt bad for some time as to how a woman would work outside the house, but a time came when I had to stand with her and Now I am earning thousands of rupees daily.”
The couple told Awaz the Voice, “This work is done in homes. Along with this, the students studying are also associated with the group. Those who are earning 3-4 thousand rupees per day by giving few hours in this work after studying from school. In his way, our work is in-house only.”
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Afsana says, “the way women have been given a chance to stand on their own feet in this government, it is no less than a lifeline for women like me. The government is giving us a market where I am selling my goods. Women also need to empower themselves. Obstacles will come in this way, but we should learn from them and move forward.”