Community Empowerment
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Vaidehi Krishnan
edited by Phil Bartle

............... My dear Sisters, 

Oh! I would love to share my dreams with you 
As we are all set to launch our enterprises new 

We shall help build our capacities and get well trained 
And spread them to others whose confidence we’ve gained 

Our own identities and status we were hardly aware of 
As many a thing until now we took no notice of 

We accepted that our lives were meant more for others 
Especially our fathers and husbands; sons and brothers 

Having stepped out of our homes we have now shed our fears 
We shall carry on our duties cheerfully without tears 

Work hard, we will still, but for business purposes as well 
Small enterprises of our own we shall run and excel 

And become self-reliant as we can now earn for ourselves 
And make money lenders realize well for themselves 

How they fleeced us with exorbitant interest rates 
At last! solutions have come up after serious debates 

There’s no dearth of opportunities with our well-wishers providing 
Credit linkages and training and handholding 

Added to this is our own group-strength we should mobilize 
Oh! Mothers and sisters, you must all realize 

Hitherto we lay hidden behind our purdahs* and doors 
And were caught up in the rigmarole of unending chores

To remain status quo we now have no reason 
By no means is ‘assertiveness’ tantamount to ‘treason’ 

With such a clear mind we shall march ahead 
And have our messages of  MOTIVATION spread!


*Partly covered faces and heads with sarees 
  according to Indian tradition


Translation created by Vaidehi Krishnan in the process of capturing the expression of the heart of a highly motivated woman trainee, ‘would-be-entrepreneur’ rural woman/ group leader in a micro- enterprise management training program at a village in Orrissa, India, in December, 2001. This poem was created extempore, in the training room, in the local dialect “Oriya” by this rural woman who intended getting across her feelings to her counterparts back home in her village who according to her were not so privileged to attend this program.

Interestingly, Vaidehi happened to mistake this woman’s poem, which ran into many pages, to be notes on business concepts delivered at the training room, and curiosity got the better of her, which then led into an inquiry that revealed this fact. Taking this situation as a challenge, she got the same interpreted into  ‘Hindi,’ the national language, and subsequently translated it into English, retaining the poetic form 

Vaidehi Krishnan
New Delhi, India