“at first, no one had accounts. Now, everyone does. If someone is in trouble, we are now all able to help them out.”
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Hasbul works at the Hope Project as a cleaner. She is twenty years old, has been married for five years, and has four children, but she looks like a child herself. She is her husband’s second wife, and some of her children are from his first wife. Though she knows his oldest child is eight years old, she has no idea how old her husband is because she has never asked.
Hasbul has no formal education, but can read a little Hindi and can sign her name. When asked what makes her happy, she thought for awhile, and finally admitted that she has no idea what happiness is.
She says her water and toilet facilities are filthy. She is worried about having enough money to feed her children. She was too young when she got married, and had no idea how to cook or take care of her husband’s children.
Hasbul’s mother-in-law essentially raised her, teaching her all the skills she would need to survive. She was very dependent on her mother-in-law and was devastated when she passed away. Hasbul now feels completely alone and has to handle all the responsibilities of the family by herself.
Hasbul’s greatest ambition is to have more time to spend with her children. Right now she’s concentrating on earning and saving as much as she can so she can make their lives better than hers. Her husband is not earning very much right now and Hasbul refuses to let her children suffer. “I don’t mind being hungry,” she says, “but I can’t stand seeing my children go hungry.”
Like many of the women of Samrat, Hasbul says that it was the women of Hope who convinced her to join. Jyoti, Tasveer, and Gulafsha came to her home and pointed out that if she couldn’t save even 3-5 rupees a day, how would she ever get anywhere? That really made her think. Hasbul now manages to save 100 rupees every month. Saving is still hard for her, but her attitude towards money has changed completely. “What’s the point of spending money now when you can be saving? You will need the money more in the future,” she explains. Her husband is very supportive of her decision to save money because he knows it benefits the whole family. Her mother-in-law had been forced to take loans and mortgage her jewelry at extremely high interest rates, but Hasbul knows that if she pays her Samrat loans back regularly, the interest actually goes down.
Joining the thrift and credit program has been an incredible growing experience for Hasbul. For the first time in her life, she no longer is dependent on parents, mother-in-law or husband. When something needs to get done, Hasbul can do it herself. When her father passed away in the village, it was Hasbul’s savings that allowed her husband to travel there to attend to his funeral. And when her brother-in-law borrowed money from moneylenders and couldn’t pay it back, it was Hasbul who was able to pay off the loan. She loves meeting other women through the program and has obviously bonded with them. When asked if the program has changed anything in the community she answered, “at first, no one had accounts. Now, everyone does. If someone is in trouble, we are now all able to help them out.”