A buffalo lounges lazily on the way to Naheed’s house. In a small room at the front of the house, a woman sits atop a palang, with everything that turns the cogs of life in this village in Sujawal stacked behind her. There are small packets of nimco and Slanty for the many children that scamper outside and washing powder along with wheat flour for the parents, who keep an anxious watch over them. This is Naheed’s kingdom, the shop she owns and runs right from her house. Naheed has furnished this room with everything the village would need to go through the day.
Naheed is hospitable, even patient, with her guests from Karachi with only a shaky grasp of her language. In her Sindhi laced with Urdu, she tells us of the beginning of her journey. Her husband works on lands, and she used to stitch clothes for her neighbors-she points to a sewing machine perched atop a trunk in the room. Days could be tough then, not that Naheed ever complained. She tried to run a shop but had only Rs. 500. Her plan fell flat. It was then that she was given a loan of Rs. 12,000 through the EU funded Sindh Union Council and Community Economic Strengthening Support (SUCCESS). Naheed, along with the local women, had formed a Community Organization (CO), and reached out to SUCCESS. Selected members of the CO had presented the women’s case in a Village Organization (VO), members of which had gone on to represent Naheed and others at the Local Support Organization (LSO). The LSO had reviewed Naheed’s case and disbursed the appropriate amount. Naheed and the women of her village had traversed this intricate web through representation at every level.
It’s been three months since, and Naheed can already rattle off the list of changes in her life.
“I buy more fashionable clothes now, we can even save sometimes,” she says proudly.
The shop is not the only source of income for Naheed. The sewing machine comes handy, and she often gets orders from neighbors. Naheed never has to leave her room but feels that she is allowed greater mobility between professions within the room.
Naheed’s daughter, Nazeera, joins us. Nazeera, a starry-eyed 17-year-old, is ready to finish school. Although she wants to go to college afterwards, she has clearly inherited her mother’s entrepreneurial spirit. After she is done with her education, she hopes to open a beauty salon, the neighborhood’s first. Her father smiles.
“We will see about that. The man you marry will see about that,” he cautions her.
“We will see that she finishes her education,” Naheed interjects.
Amna Shoaib, a student of Habib University visited SUCCESS programme areas in Sujawal in March 2018 to observe the Community Investment Fund (CIF) as a form of micro loan for women. She shared Naheed’s story as part of her experience of visiting Sujawal.
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