Mother’s Day is celebrated worldwide to honor mothers – and the influence of motherhood and maternal bonds in today’s society. On this day, we often thank our mothers for all they have done – right from giving birth to feeding and educating.
As I am a somewhat unexpressive person, and since I cannot express my love and emotions to my own mother, I thought of writing the story of a mother whose journey has touched my heart and has inspired me.
Annamma Varghese, a lady hailing from the Idukki district of Kerala, is the mother of two children – and she loves her family just like other mothers do. From her childhood, Annamma was sincere and hardworking. Because of these qualities, she got a job in Kannur Medical College as a nurse. But, after marriage, her husband didn’t allow her to continue with her job. This decision brought a world of darkness in her life. Though she was happy in her small world with her two children and husband, her inner passion to be self-independent ate her up from the inside.
When Kudumbashree arrived in her panchayat, she became part of the self-help group (SHG) and got an opportunity to become a president of the group. Here, her leadership abilities came to light – and she was selected as the Chairperson of the Community Development Society (CDS). This post is the topmost level in the 3-tier community structure in Kerala’s local government.
After getting the opportunity to lead the panchayat, she was encouraged to work more and contribute to the needy people. She observed that more than 90% people in her panchayat faced abject poverty. She also observed that the younger generation here was extremely addicted to alcohol and other harmful substances.
Therefore, she thought that it was high time that she gave full attention to these issues and dedicated her efforts for the betterment of the people. She worked day and night, selflessly, and brought all the poor women under the single umbrella of the SHG. She helped them stand on their own feet by enrolling them under the MGNERGA scheme. Under her leadership, the panchayat succeeded in setting up 1,600 micro-enterprises to combat the poverty among the people. Because of her dedication towards uplifting the poor people, she has been honoured as the best CDS person continuously for five years by the Kerala government.
Miyuki Miyabe, a Japnese author, says, “As long as there is happiness, there will be sadness. As long as there is fortune, there will be misfortune.
She further says, “[…]What’s real is something that not even the strength of the Goddess can change. The only one who can change it is me. If I don’t change my destiny, if I don’t cut through the obstacles in my path, then no matter where I go, I’ll always be standing in the same place, doing the same thing over and over again, for the rest of my life.”
Annamma Varghese’s happiness was shattered when her husband died from cancer. Back then, the doors to happiness seemed completely closed for her. Instead, she was faced with many questions: who would take care of her children if she devoted her time to community development? If she prioritise her children’s career, she would have to let go of her dream of being a self-sustaining woman. She knew it would be a tough decision for her – and she was also aware that her upcoming life wouldn’t be an easy one. Understandably, she was tensed as the number of opportunities seemed to be reducing for her. Her income was also not sufficient enough to provide quality education to the children.
However, one should remember the saying, “When one door closes, another one opens.” Same was the case with Annamma. She got another opportunity when Manu, a member of a mentor core group (MCG), introduced her to Kudumbashree.
In 2015, she has selected as a mentor for the SVEP project in Bihar. Though she knew little about the outside world, she took the bold step to come out of her small world and landed in the Muraul Block in Bihar. This marked a new beginning to a life full of challenges and hurdles, since she was completely unaware of the language, cultures and traditions of the place. Though she came to the place with the aim to support the people here, her language barrier made it difficult for her to get closer to the people and gain their acceptance.
In the beginning, she was frustrated and depressed as her life wasn’t panning out as she had wanted. She even thought of quitting her dream. But, her children inspired and motivated her to keep struggling and believe in her own dream.
She always remembers the words of the CRPEP of the Muraul Block, which still inspires her to keep working in this sector: “Didi, aap Kerala se yaha aaye hai, aur hum logo ko madat kar rahe hai – wohi badi baat hai. Aap baat kijiye toote-phoote Hindi me – hum log samajh lenge (You have come from Kerala in order to help us – that, in itself, is a big thing. Even if you are not able to speak Hindi properly, we’ll understand you).”
It is in this fashion that her journey started in Bihar. Today, she is one of the most successful entrepreneurship mentors in Bihar, with 300 micro-enterprises registered in her name.
Indeed, this is the inspiring journey of a mother who seemingly sacrificed her love for her children so that she can support the lives of poor women in Bihar. However, a mother’s love cannot be compared to the other precious things in the world. Her love for her children has never faded away, irrespective of where she’s been. This simple story is a tribute to this amazing mother, who should be a role model for every other mother in the world.