- Leelabai Kambale -
Village Kolowade, Taluka Mulshi
I have been working with VCDA for 35 years. Before, my entry into VCDA my life was divided between the work in the fields and the house hold. At first, I was shy about attending these meetings in Pune. I was afraid there would be rumors about me in the village. I had doubts about my abilities, no confidence, but I decided to continue, gradually these fears dissolve. I attended a seminar organized by VCDA, there we shared our problems, and we approached them in a scientific way: observation, questioning, analysis. Then we made decisions collectively. I realized that I was equal to others. I realized that I was as capable as anybody, if I used my abilities properly. It was an inner revolution. We were able to apprehend the world with conscience, a door opened in me.
My self-confidence grew, until I began to initiate meetings in my village. I gathered men and women together to discuss our problems. We fought for the rights of the rural beneficiaries of different government programs and schemes. Because of a number of factors,the benefits do not reach the beneficiaries. For example we were able to use the housing schemes, for getting houses for the most deprived sections. Then, we gathered and put pressure on the village assembly for the equal distribution of water supply to all the localities. In first place the regular water supply to the village had started because of the animators only . In the same way, we could not move freely because of the lack of roads, and a bridge. We fought for several years, and finally a bridge was constructed resolving permanently the problem of complete isolation of our hamlet from rest of the village in monsoon.
I also worked alongside groups of vulnerable populations such as the elderly who no longer have economic resources, as well as widows and women abandoned by their husbands. These women are subject to many injustices and humiliations, it is necessary to work with them, it is one of my priorities.