Humble Handpump Wali Bua Who's Helping Parched Rajasthan
Women are the strongest pillars of society. Evidently, this male dominated society we live in has endangered them as a species. I use the term endangered metaphorically for growth, development and opportunity. The mental block within the mind of individuals keeps getting deeper. While we think that the urban population is progressing towards equality, the rural population is still miles behind in battle. The world shall not progress until and unless we try getting others at par. Ignorance isn’t always blissful. This is my plea to all the women worldwide to fight for their rights and voice out their opinions.
From the very basic
Presenting to you a story of a strong woman who not only broke the stereotype but also empowered each and every woman in her locality who believed that their life revolved only around the kitchen. Meerabai Meena, 52, lives in Padoona village, Udaipur, Rajasthan which is nestled in the Aravalli mountain range. Even though Udaipur city is only about 42 kilometers away, Padoona is a remote and underdeveloped village. The village is only partially electrified. Most of the villagers live on less than Rs 20 a day. The village lacks basic necessities like proper water, healthcare and education facilities. Women are restrained only to household chores and meagre tasks.
Meerabai belonged to a tribal community. She lost her husband 4 years after marriage and was left with nothing to look forward to ahead in life. Then, one fine day, being the strong woman that she is, she made a well-founded decision to bring about a change in the life of the villagers and take charge of her own life as well.
Realizing the need for availability of water for better health, she signed up for a hand pump mechanic training course offered by the government. She encouraged the others to sign up too but they were very resilient and did not want to get out of their comfort zone knowing the fact that the village was facing water related problems. Women generally never worked as mechanics and those who did were subject to character assassination due to the atmosphere around the region. She had to travel and work with men which only added to the taunts and insults.
Meerabai walks miles every day through rough hilly terrain carrying her heavy tools as all the houses are scattered and there is lack of transportation facilities. Despite of all these atrocities in her path, she is dedicated towards her job and her brother keeps her motivated too. The innate will to work for other people and fulfil their needs is what keeps her going. She caters to 2 panchayats, Jhabla and Padoona which includes 5 revenue villages. She attends to the villagers whenever they need her help, irrespective of what part of the day it is. She fights a battle against incidence of diseases and improper sanitation due to lack of water every single day on behalf of all the villagers. She made sure that the pumps in her area were working fine and people did not have to face difficulties while fetching water.
The locals now appreciate and respect her for all that she does for them. They even help her with her work, be it lifting the heavy pipes or carrying her tools, etc. She is affectionately referred to as “hand pumpwali bua” by the people, bua meaning aunt in Hindi. The elders of the village now praise her for her struggles and dedication. She has become a role model for all women, not only in the village but in the nation as a whole.
(By Declan Rego. Photo credit: Manish Kumar Shukla)