Ram Bai or Pholli as her friends call her, visits her temple every morning where she enthusiastically chants holy songs to please her deities and show her gratitude. Born in a lower-caste Hindu family, 19-year-old Pholli lives in a remote, underprivileged and ultra conservative village called Ranchor Kohli. Its stifling and conservative culture frowns upon the education and free movement of girls. This stifling environment made Pholli even more determined to make something of her life and the lives of her parents and three siblings.

Pholli remembers when in 2009, HDF first opened its organization’s office in Ranchor Kohli with the slogan, “help people help themselves” and with the aim to help all villagers irrespective of any specific community or caste. Realizing the dire need for education, HDF began a non-formal school, which proved a turning point for Pholli. She joined the school and completed her education till grade five; soon after she joined another HDF program – the Community Health Worker (CHW) Program where she was trained to raise awareness on personal hygiene, preventative health care and girl child rights.

However, continued financial hardships strengthened Pholli’s determination to further educate herself; she went on to complete her studies and became a qualified midwife. Now Pholli works in the local area spreading awareness about family planning and provides antenatal and postnatal services; in this way Pholli helps improve the quality of women’s lives while earning a good livelihood for herself.

Pholli was grateful that she had the support of HDF which provided her with opportunities to learn, earn a good livelihood and further enhance her skills. She always wanted to study, and was motivated by the Social Organizers who were women, just like us, but educated, confident and aware of everything.

Not being aware about contraceptives methods, we used to have big families. Now, I am aware, and being a CHW, I spread awareness about contraceptives, sanitation, health and hygiene in my locality.

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