Suman Devi has not stopped smiling ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned her name in his ‘Mann ki Baat’ programme.
Modi had a word of praise for the women self-help groups in Barabanki who are involved in making masks and mentioned Suman’s name.
Suman did not hear the programme, which was aired on Sunday, but was thrilled when she learnt that the Prime Minister had mentioned her name and her group.
“Isse badi baat aur kya ho sakti hai? (What can be bigger than this). The Prime Minister noticed out initiative and this has given us encouragement and confidence to work harder. I am thrilled because everyone is congratulating me,” she said on Monday.
Suman Devi, a resident of Gurudutt Khera of Triveniganj block in Barabanki, had started the ‘Ma Vaishno Self Help Group’ in August 2016, along with 11 other women, including Subhadra Devi, Vimla Devi, Sunita and Renu.
The block manager of the National Rural Livelihood Mission in their area helped them get training in making masks and growing chillies and tomatoes. This helped the women earn an income from their work and become self-sufficient.
Suman Devi said that there was a shortage of masks during the Covid-19 lockdown and then they decided to make masks and help people fight the infection.
“We discussed the idea with the mission manager of the block and started sewing khadi masks at home. Initially, we made 70 masks which we distributed to children, older people and needy people,” she said.
When the lockdown was eased, they bought more cloth from the market and the SHG women started stitching masks. Khadi is being used because the masks made from this can be washed and reused several times.
Twenty-four women are involved with this work as part of the SHG and this has not only helped them make a living but is also helping people fight the Corona infection.
Suman Devi, who is the treasurer of this group, has done her graduation.
“We initially received Rs 1.10 lakh in the community investment fund. From this, four members took Rs 12,500 each and started their own business. While I am making masks, Sunita has started chilli farming and Renu is selling tomatoes grown in a nursery.
“Mainavati has started a grocery store through which she is supplementing her family’s income. The fund given by the government is interest free but the members of the SHG have taken it on one per cent interest so that the other members can also become empowered,” she explained.
Barabanki District Magistrate Dr. Adarsh Singh, meanwhile, tweeted his gratitude to the Prime Minister for praising the efforts of the SHG.
“I express my gratitude to the Prime Minister for sharing the story of Suman Devi, with the entire country and for recognising and appreciating our efforts. This is the third time in a year when the Prime Minister has mentioned Barabanki in his Mann ki Baat programme,” he wrote
During an earlier programme, the Prime Minister had praised the district for the revival of the Sarahi Lake and Kalyani river in Barabanki.