All of twenty-nine years, this firebrand of a woman wears many hats. She is a doting mother, an active community worker, master crafts-person, and now a master trainer with ACT. Following her increased environment consciousness after joining ACT, she has been instrumental in mobilizing more women to join the livelihood initiative. She was the first among her peers to build a toilet in her home with her savings. This, according to her, is her family’s contribution to the Swachh Bharat mission.
Reena is an invaluable member of the Bandhwari craftswomen community, which was also the first women’s group to be formed under the ACT sustainable livelihood initiative. She has been involved in various community development projects for over a decade. When the Paper Wings initiative was first introduced in her village, Bandhwari, she proactively took interest in raising awareness about upcycling and has since played an instrumental role in managing and taking the project forward. A natural leader, Reena keeps her fellow craftswomen motivated and serves as a positive role model for the women in her village. An intelligent and conscious individual, Reena understands the importance of upcycling and its contribution to the environment.
“I am a mother to three daughters, age twelve, eight and five. I had my first child at the young age of seventeen. I have been involved in various development programmes in my village for more than ten years. My husband is very supportive which makes it easier for women like me to commit to long-term participation in skill development projects such as Paper Wings. I am able to contribute so much time to the initiative only because of his support. He even helps me with making the products. He has such a deft hand; he is an expert at weaving the paper strips. Many times we work as a team where he makes the product and I add the finishing touches,” says Reena.
And she further adds, “I save my income from Paper Wings in a bank account and use it to pay for my daughter’s computer classes and other out-of-budget expenses. I feel the greatest reward for my hard work all these years has been the construction of a toilet in my house. For many years, my daughters had to go into the fields even at night. With my savings, I helped my husband build a toilet in the house so that our daughters feel safe and comfortable. I had been seeking government help for a while but then I decided it had to be done as soon as possible.”
Having experienced a complete transformation in her personality, Reena speaks fervently about how working with ACT has developed her self-confidence and given her a new perspective on life. No more the once diffident homemaker she recalls herself as, now she regularly travels to other cities to conduct livelihood skill training, confidently holds the fort at handicraft exhibitions, and has a million ideas up her sleeve about how to bring more rural women on board the Paper Wings initiative.
The Paper Wings initiative has given this ambitious young mother the wings of independence she values deeply. Clearly, there’s no stopping her as she aspires to scale new heights with each new opportunity that comes her way.
“I started as a craftswoman and worked hard to be recognized as a master trainer. I have conducted several training sessions and now I am confident that I can train anyone. I keep telling Didi to take us abroad for up-cycling training. I want to see the world, and with ACT, I know that it is possible.
“Apni ek pehchaan banai hai desh mein, ab videsh jaana hai“
ACT(Action Center for Transformation) is a capacity-building organization, engaging with grassroots communities, NonGovernment Organizations, Government, and Corporates. ACT has been consistently delivering strategized action for the underprivileged and the deprived section of the society.
ACT has designed various impact programs which are empowering women through creativity to earn their livelihood and live with a great sense of pride.
To read all the stories of impact by ACT, click here.