Village Arab Solangi is located at a short distance of 30 kilometers from district headquarter of Khairpur. This village is about 50 years old with nearly 200 households of Solangis. The population is about 7000 souls and all are related to each other by blood.
In the early 90s, economy of village was predominantly agrarian in nature. But during the past few years, people started to diversify their economy. Now people open up small businesses and some opt for government jobs as well.
In 1992, torrential rains totally devastated the village and ruined villagers’ means of livelihood.Due to agricultural fields around the village being slightly elevated, the rainwater rushed into the village playing havoc. Most katcha (mud) houses of poor people were swept away with only a few left standing. Then stagnant water spread water-borne diseases. Women and children suffered the most in this natural and unprecedented acute calamity.
The poverty-ridden villagers now in a state of utter shock did not know where to turn to for their relief. A semi-organized group in the village namely Solangi Youth Welfare Association (SYWA) did undertake some relief work – only for men to the total exclusion of women, again due to gender apathy and neglected status of women.
The plight of underserved women was pathetic and downright deplorable and triggered a sense of responsibility in GhulamSughra to take charge and ownership of these women’s unsavory situation. Sughra had recently passed matriculation exam at that time. She, with support of another woman Diba organized a women’s group to pool for a fund with a meager amount of rupees 10 per person. Though difficult to save even this paltry sum, Sughra through sheer commitment and willpower goaded others to take the idea seriously. They collected Rs.500.00 from 25 households in first three months, and they collectively decided to lend that money to a woman for starting a grocery shop. Likewise, they plowed back money recovered from more women to help some others start small business. This was the first step in introducing entrepreneurship among rural women at village level. Soon after matriculation, Sughra was recruited as a primary teacher in newly established girls’ primary school at village Arab Solangi. After her first employment, she faced another kind of odd situation.
Again, due to prevalent social norms, education for girls was a decided no-no. Their education was deemed a luxury as compared to boys that village folk could ill afford. Sughra’s new found employment was now at risk with no girls coming forward to register. She took up this challenge and went from door to door to convince women to send their daughters to primary grades. In the first year and after a lot effort, she succeeded in getting about twenty girls registered in school.
In 1993, NGO Resource Center (NGORC) began work in district Khairpur. During their first village identification visit, they visited Village Arab Solangi and met with SYWA to explore opportunities to work together in future. There, Sughra met SadiqaSalahudin and invited her to visit her home. Sadiqa did so within a week. Sadiqa impressed with Sughra’s women-related initiatives at her village, offered her to work with her own women’s group in service delivery type of welfare work. All this was new jargon to both Diba and Sughra or even how a group is formally organized.
Nevertheless, once again, both banded together to collectively work for the betterment of the women and development of their village in general.