Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Uncovering India’s Siddi Community

Uncovering India’s Siddi Community
Need a Real Sponsor here

By Shanoor Seervai

Ketaki Sheth
Celebrating Urs, Jambur, 2006.




























Ketaki Sheth first encountered the Siddi in 2005 on a family holiday to the Gir forest in Gujarat. This community of African origin would become her photographic obsession.


Over the next seven years she traveled to remote towns and villages, mostly in Gujarat and Karnataka, taking pictures of the Siddi, an ethnic group from east Africa that came to India more than 400 years ago.
Ms. Sheth’s work culminates in a book of black and white photographs, “A Certain Grace: The Sidi, Indians of African Descent,” which went on sale Friday.
On her first visit to Jambur, a Siddi village in the northwest Indian state of Gujarat, she saw three boys playing carom outside a store selling beedis, or hand-rolled cigarettes. She says they gave her a look of condescension that confirmed her fears of being perceived as another typical tourist, even though she didn’t have her camera.
She continued to visit Jambur and Sirwan, the village where she’d first encountered the Siddi, and gradually developed relationships with the people who lived there.
Using a 30-year-old medium format film camera, a Mamiya 6, Ms. Sheth pays close attention to the personality traits and circumstances of the people she photographs. The delicate details of the landscape, the cracked paint of whitewashed walls and shadows of overhanging trees, don’t detract from their stories.
Ketaki Sheth
Hirbaiben Lobi on her three-acre farm, Jambur, 2005.
Ms. Sheth became close friends with Hirbaiben Lobi, whose success as an entrepreneur is evident in a photograph on her three-acre farm in Jambur. Beneath the shade of palm trees, with her right hand on her hip, she stares defiantly into the camera. Her jewelry glints under the sun, adding to this portrait of fierce independence.
“When I told her we have to chase the light, she must have thought I was nuts, but she did it anyway,” says Mumbai-based Ms. Sheth.
After photographing the Siddi over the years, from Gujarat to the Manchikeri forests of Karnataka, Ms. Sheth knew she wanted to publish a book.
Along with portraits and scenes of daily life, Ms. Sheth’s pictures depict how the Siddi community has embraced Indian Sufism while retaining some of the song and dance traditions of its African heritage. Her work tackles complex questions of diaspora and belonging, not least in how the Siddi differ from Africans of Indian origin.
“Celebrating Urs, Jambur, 2006,” captures a group of children at an annual festival to commemorate an ancestral Sufi saint. Two of the children smile shyly into the camera, but the rest seem blissfully unaware that they are being photographed, and continue to dance and clap.
Ketaki Sheth
Ramzamma laughs when asked if she is pregnant with her first child. It is actually her fourth, Jambur 2005.
In another image, a woman called Ramzamma throws her head back and laughs with contagious abandon. The caption explains that she was asked if she was pregnant with her first child, when it was actually her fourth.
Ramzamma emerges from the page, confident and good-natured in spite of the challenges that she will likely face raising a fourth child in a relatively poor Indian village. Ms. Sheth captures this story of motherhood with a compassion that resonates across cultures.
These are portraits that speak to a common humanity.
“A Certain Grace: The Sidi, Indians of African Descent,” photographs by Ketaki Sheth with essays by Mahmood Mamdani and Rory Bester, costs 1,500 rupees ($28).

Thursday, March 21, 2013

જાંબુરના અભણ હીરબાઇ પ્રખ્યાત છે દેશવિદેશમાં


જાંબુરના અભણ હીરબાઇ પ્રખ્યાત છે દેશવિદેશમાં



ગીરના જાંબુર ગામના સીદી જાતિના હીરબાઇ અભણ હોવા છતાં તેમના કાર્યો થકી દેશવિદેશમાં પ્રખ્યાત છે. 

સૌરાષ્ટ્રના ગીર પંથકમાં વનરાજ સિંહનું રાજ પ્રવર્તે છે. ગીરના સિંહ જેટલા દેશ-વિદેશમાં પ્રખ્યાત છે, તેટલા જ ગીરના જાંબુર ગામના હીરબાઇ લોબી પણ પોતાની આગવી પ્રતિભાને લીધે પ્રસિદ્ધ છે. હીરબાઇ લોબી સીદી જાતિના અભણ અને ગરીબ ઘરમાં જન્મેલાં. બાળપણ ઘણી તકલીફો વચ્ચે વીત્યું. ચાર વર્ષની ઉંમરે માતાનું મૃત્યુ થયું અને ચૌદ વર્ષની વયે પિતાની છત્રછાયા ગુમાવી દીધી. દાદી પાસે રહીને ઉછયાઁ. તેમની સીદી જાતિમાં પુરુષો પણ ભણે નહીં. ગરીબી, બેરોજગારી અને દારૂનું સેવન સામાન્ય બાબત ગણાય. એવામાં હીરબાઇના લગ્ન થયાં પણ પરિસ્થિતિમાં કશો જ ફરક ન પડ્યો. હીરબાઇને પિતા તરફથી વારસામાં અડધો એકર જમીન મળી હતી, પરંતુ ગામમાં બીજાની જેમ તેમને માથે પણ એક લાખ રૂપિયાનું દેવું હતું. જોકે હીરબાઇમાં નામ પ્રમાણે હીર હતું. 

અભણ હોવા છતાં તેમનામાં દૂરંદેશીતા હતી એટલે સખત મહેનત અને ખેતી કરી દેવું વાળ્યું. પોતાની જાતને સદ્ધર બનાવી. હીરબાઇએ આટલેથી અટકી ન જતાં પોતાના સમાજની અનેક બહેનો અને છોકરાઓને સદ્ધર બનાવવાનું બીડું ઝડપ્યું. દેખાવે સાધારણ, અભણ હીરબાઇ આજે ૫૫ વર્ષની ઉંમરે ભણેલી બહેનોને શરમાવે તેટલા કામ કરે છે. સવારે પાંચ વાગે ઊઠીને ઘરના કચરા-પોતાં કરે, રસોઇ બનાવે, પોતાની ખેતીના કામ કરવાના પછી શરૂ થાય સમાજના કામ... કાઠિયાવાડી ગુજરાતીમાં હીરબાઇ કહે છે, ‘કામ કરતાં મને ક્યારેય થાક લાગતો નથી. મારા કામ નો થાય તો હાલે, પણ મારી પાંહે જે કોઇ આવે તેનું કામ થાવું જ જોહે. અને ભગવાનની મહેર છે કે લોકોના કામ તત્કાલ થાય છે.’

જાંબુર ગામમાં પહેલાં શાળા નહોતી અને ખાસ કંઇ કામધંધોય નહોતો. હીરબાઇની દૂરંદેશીતાથી આજે ગામમાં આંગણવાડી, શાળા અને કોલેજ પણ છે. બીજું કોઇ કામ કરે તેની રાહ જોવામાં હીરબાઇ માનતાં નથી. તેમના આદિવાસી મહિલા સંગઠન સાથે આજે ૯૦૦ જેટલી બહેનો સંકળાયેલી છે અને તેનાથી વધુ બહેનોને હીરબાઇએ પગભર કરી છે. ગિરનાર પંથકમાં કેસર કેરીનું અભૂતપૂર્વ વાવેતર... કેરી એક્સપોર્ટ તો થાય જ, પણ તેના રસને પણ ડબામાં પેક કરવાનું કામ શરૂ કરાવ્યું. ઓર્ગેનિક ખાતર બનાવવાનું કામ તો મોટા પાયે બહેનો કરે છે.

તેમના ખાતરની કવોલિટી એવી કે તેની માગ વધતી જ જાય છે. સસ્તા ભાવે સારું બિયારણ લોકોને મળે તેનું કામ પણ શરૂ કરાવ્યું. પશુપાલન, ડેરી ઉદ્યોગ આમ ગામમાં રહીને થઇ શકે એવા અનેક રોજગાર તેમણે બહેનો માટે શરૂ કરાવ્યા. ફકત જાંબુર ગામ જ નહીં, આસપાસના ૧૯ ગામની બહેનો માટે હીરબાઇ કામ કરી રહ્યાં છે. આવાં અશિક્ષિત, ગરીબ હીરબાઇને આવી સમજ કેવી રીતે આવી? એવું પૂછ્યું તો હસીને કહે, ‘બહેન, મારી દાદી પાસેથી... મારી દાદીએ એક વાત મને ગાંઠે બંધાવેલી કે કોકના ભલામાં આપણી ભલાઇ છે.

બસ, આજે એ જ વાક્ય મારા મનમાં સતત ઘૂમરાતું રહે છે અને સાચું કહું મને અશિક્ષિત રહ્યાનો કોઇ અફસોસ નથી.. કદાચ હું ભણી હોત તો બીજાનો વિચાર કરત કે નહીં તે ખબર નથી. પણ ભણી નથી એટલે મારા છોકરા ભણે, બીજાના છોકરા ભણે એવા વિચાર સતત આવે. પોતાના માટે તો સૌ કોઇ ખાય, પણ બીજા ખાય ને આપણું પેટ ભરાય ત્યારે ખરું. આ વિચારો મને દાદી પાસેથી મળ્યા અને મારાથી થાય એટલું કામ કરું છું. મને તો ક્યારેક લાગે કે હું કોઇ કામ કરતી જ નથી. તમે કયો ત્યારે તમારી સાથે વાત કરવા નવરી.’ કહેતાં હીરબાઇ સહજતાથી હસી પડે છે.

હીરબાઇ પોતે કોઇ માલિકીભાવથી કે જાતિધર્મના ભેદભાવથી કામ નથી કરતા. તેમની પાસે આવતી બહેનોને તેઓ પોતાની રીતે સદ્ધર બનાવી કામ કરતી કરી વિકાસ માટે મુકત કરે. આસપાસના અનેક ગામોમાં સફળ રીતે વ્યવસાય કરતી બહેનોની કહાણી જાણવા મળે અને તેમનું પીઠબળ હોય હીરબાઇ લોબી. જિલ્લા સ્તરે તેમની સલાહ લેવાય. કૃષિ હોય કે ડેરી ઉદ્યોગ કે વિકાસના કાર્ય - તેમની પાસે માહિતી અને જ્ઞાન હોય જ.

ગામમાં સ્વચ્છતા, ફેમિલી પ્લાનિંગના કાર્યો સાથે કો-ઓપરેટિવ સ્ટોર્સ પણ શરૂ કર્યો. હીરબાઇના મતે વિકાસ એટલે ફકત પૈસા કમાવા નહીં, પરંતુ તમામ ક્ષેત્રે જીવનધોરણ સુધરવું જોઇએ. તેમને દેશ-વિદેશમાં લોકો વકતવ્ય આપવા માટે બોલાવે છે અને અનેક એવોર્ડથી તેમનું સન્માન થયું છે. તેમની મહત્વાકાંક્ષા છે કે તેમની સીદી જાતિના બાળકો રમતગમત ક્ષેત્રે પણ દેશનું નામ રોશન કરે. તાલીમ વર્ગો અને સ્પોર્ટ્સ સંકુલ ગામડાઓમાં હોવાં જોઇએ તેવી એમની ઇચ્છા છે. હીરબાઇની સમાજ માટે કામ કરવાની ધગશ જોઇને સ્ત્રી તરીકે મસ્તક ગર્વોન્નત થયા વિના ન રહે.

આજની નારી, દિવ્યાશા દોશી

Change co-operative



Change co-operative

Parimal Dabhi Posted online: Sun Jun 29 2008, 09:44 hrs
An illiterate village woman is the pivot of a silent revolution, changing the lives of one of Gujarat’s most backward communities
A determined village woman who can’t read or write is the pivot of a silent revolution, changing the lives and times of one of Gujarat’s most backward communities
With their lightened ebony complexion, curly hair and distinct characteristics of Negroid stock and unique cultural ethos, the Siddis of Jambur trace their roots to Africa. The general theory is that they had stepped off Arab trading ships that used to dock here centuries ago. Marginalised and mostly illiterate, the Siddis have been living by manual labour, besides a pittance from occasionally performing and exhibiting themselves for tourists on the state circuit.
But things are changing fast for the Siddis, and the catalyst is an illiterate woman—Hirbai Lobi. Thanks to this doughty woman, the Siddis are slowly but surely getting out of their time warp.
The agents of change that Lobi has brought to this community, spread over 18 villages in Saurashtra, include a sound co-operative movement, family planning initiatives, and small savings groups. The herald of the change were the 11 all-women co-operatives that Lobi helped set up in the community—which soon had the men folk follow.
It was no overnight miracle. Lobi had been working steadily, quietly on it for decades as the village sarpanch and also with some NGOs. “The problem with our community used to be that they were reluctant to positive change. We have been living here for years, in pathetic conditions. Initially, they even suspected my intentions when I began pushing for change,” recalls Lobi
Her latest initiative has been to market branded vermicompost made by the Siddis. The brand, ‘Panchtatva Brand Sendriya Khatar Powder’ will be sold through a through a Siddi women co-operative society. The manufacture is the collective manual effort of women, but locally this brand is now giving a tough competition to companies who are into this business. Lobi’s success is significant in that earlier these women used to go around individually to sell the vermicost to farmers and shopkeepers with little say over the market conditions—the women now have nine different marketing agents who look after the sale.
“I used to live off manual labour in the jungle, but now I earn Rs 100 a day,” says Jiluben Modi, one of the 25 women in Lobi’s vermicompost manufacturing group, the Nagarchi Mahila Mandal, now selling vermicompost worth Rs 6-7 lakh a year.
Amulaben Darjada, 65, who has been with Lobi in all her efforts from the beginning says the menfolk stayed away in the early days. “None of them came to help us in the beginning. Only Lobi had the courage to push for change.”
Lobi chose to bank on women as change agents, and this was not easy even as she set off with a women’s co-operative for mobilising monthly savings, with the help of an NGO.
“The community’s men kept discouraging me.” Things were so difficult that even women who were convinced about the saving concept used to give her the savings money undercover. “I used to go to their homes wearing gunny bags to collect the monthly saving installments, so that their male family members would not recognise me,” she says.
The women co-operatives have now also started lending money to the members. Before launching the co-operatives, Lobi had started awareness initiatives among the women, on basic health issues.
Time was when Lobi was hardly taken seriously. “But once our activities began getting noticed, I knew there would be no looking back, particularly after the co-operatives picked up.”
The men now too have begun to appreciate the efforts. Bachu Makwana, a fellow villager says, “Due to her efforts, a lot of women have now started getting employment. Following her co-operative movement, now even men have started showing interest in them.”
After Lobi helped put up a community school, the Siddis now have a bigger dream—a college in their village. And like all Siddi dreams, this too revolves around this doughty little woman who walks with them.

Hirbaiben Ibrahimbhai Lobi


Hirbaiben Ibrahimbhai Lobi

Social Welfare
Hirbaiben Ibrahimbhai Lobi is a true grass root entrepreneur. She comes from a tribal clan, the Siddi community that has lived with meager resources and no real opportunity. Hirbai decided to change all of that. She took a loan to start an organic compost farm and employed women of her community. In no time the women of Jambur village were on their feet. Hirbai was determined she had to improve the condition of her people, with a radio by her side. She got the tribals to take tips on scientific ways of farming. She then set up a kindergarten school and is now aiming for a high school and college for the children of the area.
http://www.realheroes.com/hirbaiben-ibrahimbhai-lobi.php
Hirbaiben Ibrahimbhai Lobi
For More information
  • Email:lobirazzaq@gmail.com
  • Number:+ 9913044843
  • Address:"Mannat" At - Village jambur, Taluka Talala Distt. Junagadh 362150 Gujarat

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

હીરબાઈ લોબી એક શક્તિશાળી મહિલા...

હીરબાઈ લોબી એક શક્તિશાળી મહિલા...

સૌરાષ્ટ્રના ગીર પંથકમાં વનરાજ સિંહનું રાજ પ્રર્વતે છે. ગીરના સિંહ જેટલા દેશવિદેશમાં પ્રખ્યાત છે તેટલા જ ગીરના જાંબુર ગામના હીરબાઈ લોબી પણ પોતાની આગવી પ્રતિભાને લીધે પ્રસિધ્ધ છે. હીરબાઈ લોબી સિદ્દી જાતિના અભણ અને ગરીબ ઘરમાં જન્મેલા. બાળપણ ઘણી તકલીફો વચ્ચે વિત્યું. ચાર વર્ષની ઉંમરે માતાનું મૃત્યુ થયું અને ચૌદ વરસની વયે પિતાજીની છત્રછાયા ગુમાવી.દાદી પાસે રહીને ઊછર્યા. તેમની સિદ્દી જાતિમાં પુરુષો પણ ભણે નહીં ,ગરીબી, બેરોજગારી અને આલ્કોહોલનું સેવન સામાન્ય બાબત ગણાય. એવામાં હીરબાઈના લગ્ન થયા પણ પરિસ્થિતિમાં કશો જ ફરક ન પડ્યો. હીરબાઈને પિતા તરફથી વારસામાં અડધો એકર જમીન મળી હતી પરંતુ, ગામમાં બીજાની જેમ તેમને માથે પણ એક  લાખ રુપિયાનું દેવુ હતું. પરંતુ, હીરબાઈમાં નામ પ્રમાણે હીર હતું. અભણ હોવા છતાં તેમનામાં દૂરંદેશી બુધ્ધિ હતી એટલે સખત મહેનત કરી ખેતી કરી દેવું વાળ્યું. અને પોતાની જાતને સધ્ધર બનાવી. એટલેથી જ આ હીરબાઈ અટકી નહીં તેમણે સમાજની અનેક બહેનો અને છોકરાઓને સધ્ધર બનાવવાનું બીડું ઝડપ્યું.
દેખાવે પણ સિદ્દી દેખાતા, કહેવાતા અભણ હીરબાઈ આજે 55 વરસની ઊંમરે ભણેલી બહેનોને શરમાવે તેટલા કામ કરે છે. સવારે પાંચ વાગ્યે ઊઠીને ઘરના કચરા પોતા, જમવાનું બનાવવાનું, પોતાની ખેતીના કામ કરવાના પછી શરુ થાય સમાજના કામ... કાઠીયાવડી ગુજરાતીમાં હીરબાઈ કહે છે કે , કામ કરતાં મને ક્યારેય થાક લાગતો નથી. મારા કામ નો થાય તો હાલે પણ મારી પાહે જે કોઈ આવે તેનું કામ થાવું જ જોહે. અને ભગવાનની મહેર છે કે લોકોના કામ તત્કાલ થાય.
જાંબુરગામમાં પહેલાં શાળા નહોતી. અને ખાસ કોઇ કામધંધો ય નહોતો. હીરબાઈની દૂરંદેશી બુધ્ધિથી આજે ગામમાં આંગણવાડી,શાળા અને કોલેજ પણ છે. બીજું કોઇ કામ કરે તેની રાહ જોવામાં હીરબાઈ માનતા નથી. તેમના આદિવાસી મહિલા સંગઠન સાથે આજે 900 જેટલી બહેનો સંકળાયેલી છે. અને તેનાથી વધુ બહેનોને હીરબાઈએ પગભર કરી છે. ગિરનાર પંથકમાં સારામાંની કેસર કેરીનું અભૂતપૂર્વ વાવેતર..કેરીતો એક્સપોર્ટ થાય જ પણ તેનો રસ પણ ડબ્બા પેક કરવાનું કામ કાજ શરુ કરાવ્યું. ઓર્ગેનિક ખાતર બનાવવાનું કામ તો મોટાપાયે બહેનો કરે છે. તેમના ખાતરની ક્વોલિટી એવી કે તેની માગ વધતી જ જાય છે. બિયારણ મોંઘુ મળે તો સસ્તા ભાવે સારું બિયારણ લોકોને મળે તેનું કામ પણ શરુ કરાવ્યું. પશુપાલન,ડેરી ઊદ્યોગ આમ ગામમાં રહીને થઈ શકે એવા અનેક રોજગાર તેમણે બહેનો માટે શરુ કરાવ્યા. ફક્ત જાંબુર ગામ જ નહીં આસપાસના 19 ગામની બહેનો માટે હીરબાઈ કામ કરી રહ્યા છે. આવી અશિક્ષિત ગરીબ હીરબાઈને આવી સમજ કેવી રીતે આવી ? એવું પૂછ્યુ તો હસીને કહે બેન, મારી દાદી પાસેથી... મારી દાદીએ એક વાત મને ગાંઠે બંધાવેલી કે કોકના ભલામાં આપણી ભલાઈ છે. બસ આજે ય એજ વાક્ય મારા મનમાં સતત ઘૂમરાતું રહે છે. અને  સાચું કહું મને અશિક્ષિત રહ્યાનો કોઇ અફસોસ નથી.. કદાચ હું ભણી હોત તો બીજાનો વિચાર કરત કે નહીં તે ખબર નથી. પણ ભણી નથી એટલે મારા છોકરા ભણે , બીજાના છોકરા ભણે એવા વિચાર સતત આવે. પોતાના માટે તો સૌ કોઇ ખાય પણ બીજા ખાયને આપણું પેટ ભરાય ત્યારે ખરું. આ વિચારો મને દાદી પાસેથી મળ્યા અને મારાથી થાય એટલું કામ કરું છું. મને તો ક્યારેક લાગે કે હું કોઇ કામ કરતી જ નથી. તમે ક્યો ત્યારે તમારી સાથે વાત કરવા નવરી. કહેતાં હીરબાઈ સહજતાથી હસી પડે છે.
હીરબાઈ પોતે કોઇ માલિકીભાવથી કે જાતિ,ધર્મના ભેદભાવથી કામ નથી કરતા. તેમની પાસે આવતી બહેનોને તેઓ પોતાની રીતે સધ્ધર બનાવી કામ કરતી કરી વિકાસ માટે મુક્ત કરે. આસપાસના અનેક ગામોમાં સફળ રીતે વ્યવસાય કરતી બહેનોની કહાણી મળી શકે. અને તેમનું પીઠબળ હશે હીરબાઈ લોબી. જીલ્લા સ્તરે તેમની સલાહ લેવાય. કૃષિ હોય કે ડેરી ઊદ્યોગ હોય કે પછી વિકાસના કાર્ય હોય તેમની  પાસે ઉપયોગી માહિતી અને જ્ઞાન હોય જ. ગામમાં સ્વચ્છતા, ફેમિલિ પ્લાનિંગના કાર્યો સાથે કો ઓપરેટીવ સ્ટોર્સ પણ શરુ કર્યો. હીરબાઈના મતે વિકાસ એટલે ફક્ત પૈસા કમાવવા નહીં પરંતુ, તમામ ક્ષેત્રે તમારું જીવન ધોરણ સુધરવું જોઇએ. તેમને દેશ-વિદેશમાં લોકો વક્તવ્ય આપવા માટે બોલાવે છે. અને અનેક એર્વોડોથી તેમનું સન્માન થયું છે. તેમનું સપનું છે કે તેમની સિદ્દી જાતિના બાળકો રમતગમત ક્ષેત્રે  પણ દેશનું નામ રોશન કરે. તાલીમ વર્ગો અને સ્પોર્ટસ સંકુલ ગામડાઓમાં હોવું જોઇએ તેવી એમની ઇચ્છા છે. હીરબાઈની સમાજને માટે કામ કરવાની ધગશ જોઇને એક સ્ત્રી તરીકે માથું ગર્વથી ઊંચુ થાય છે. 

जूनागढ़ की रियल हीरोज, नाम नहीं काम है बड़ा

जूनागढ़ की रियल हीरोज, नाम नहीं काम है बड़ा

जूनागढ़। ऐसे लोगों की कमी नहीं जो अपने समाज के सच्चे नायक हैं। अपनी और किसी ख़ासियत की वजह से नहीं बल्कि अपने काम की बदौलत वो बन गए रियल हीरोज़। आईबीएन18 ऐसे ही लोगों को ढूंढ कर दे रहा है एक मंच। आज की हीरो हैं हीराबाई। अपने काम से उन्होंने जो कर दिखाया वो किसी भी मैनेजमेंट इंस्टीट्यूट में केस स्टडी बन सकती है।
दरअसल गुजरात के जूनागढ़ की हीराबाई इब्राहीम लोबी ने एक दिन जैविक खाद के बारे में रेडियो पर सुना था। जमीन से जुड़ी इस महिला ने समझ लिया की ये इलाके की तरक्की का एक अहम जरिया हो सकता है। हीराबाई को जरूरत थी तो बस बैंक से लोन की। जल्द ही उन्होंने इलाके की महिलाओं के साथ एक कॉपरेटिव की शुरुआत की और इसका नाम रखा महिला विकास मंडल। इस पहल के नतीजे भी जल्द ही सामने आ गया। जैसे कि महिलाओं का तैयार किया गया जैविक खाद का खास ब्रांड और ग्रमीण महिलाओं का उद्योग स्थापित करने का कामयाब मॉडल।
इसका फायदा कई लोगों को हुआ। अज़राबेन अब्दुल जंगल से लकड़ी इकट्ठी कर बेचने का काम करती थी। वन विभाग के गार्ड अकसर उन्हें खदेड़ दिया करते थे और वो दिन भर में बामुश्किल 15-20 रुपए कमाया करती थी। आज उनकी आमदनी कई गुना बढ़ गई है।



आत्मनिर्भरता तो बस शुरुआत थी हीराबाई ने सिद्दी समुदाय की लगभग 600 महिलाओं की जिंदगी बदल दी। सिद्दी समुदाय में लगभग 50,000 लोग है जो जूनागढ़ के 20 गांवों में बसे हैं। इस समुदाय के लोग गरीब और अशिक्षित तो हैं ही बड़ी तादात में नशे की लत का भी शिकार हैं। हीराबाई को पता था की पढ़ाई लिखाई इस समुदाय में भारी बदलाव ला सकती है। उन्होंने छोटे बच्चों का एक स्कूल शुरू किया गया। इसमें कम्पोस्ट फार्म में काम करने वाली महिलाओं के बच्चों को लिया गया और इसका पूरा खर्च कॉपरेटिव ने उठाना शुरू किया। लेकिन हीराबाई को पता है ये अभी एक छोटा सा कदम ही है।
हीराबाई के शुरू किये गए अभियान की बदौलत अब जैविक खाद के फार्म मे काम करने वाली ज्यादातर महिलाओं के स्थानीय बैंक में बचत खाते हैं और वो समझती हैं कि छोटे-छोटे व्यवसाय और उद्योगों से वो जिंदगी मे बदलाव ला सकती हैं। अब वो अपने लिये बड़ी योजनाए बना रही हैं। हीराबाई ने फैसला किया है जब तक वो अपने गांव में कंप्यूटर क्लास, एक हाई स्कूल और एक कॉलेज ने देख लें चैन से नहीं बैठेगी।
http://khabar.ibnlive.in.com/news/29494/9

Hirbai Ben Lobi the Diamond of the Forest.

Hirbai Ben Lobi the Diamond of the Forest.

video
Ritu visits the area in Gujarat where the Siddi tribe are descendants of migrant workers who came hundreds of years ago from Africa. Ritu talks to Hirbai Ben Lobi, who is called the Diamond of the Forest by the locals. The Forest Diamond and her friends

Empowering Women in Rural India Host: Ritu’s here to meet the woman they like to call Hirbai Ben Lobi the Diamond of the Forest. The Forest Diamond tells Ritu about the old days when the Siddi lived in the forest and women were harassed and exploited until Forest Diamond realized something. 

Ritu: What happened in the jungle? 

Hirbai Ben Lobi: When the girls of our village went to the forest to collect firewood the forester used to harass them a lot. When the girls used to run away from the jungle, they used to get injured. Our younger girls were also sexually harassed. So I realized that that we should not go into forest to collect wood anymore instead we needed to save our money up. But at that time the bank would not open accounts for us since some of us could not read or write. They asked us ‘who will fill your deposit slips?’ I was outraged and I told them that tomorrow all the women will be able to fill the slip. Host: It worked. The Forest Diamond and her friends formed a co- operative. Their savings fund businesses their businesses. Opposition yes, but diamonds don’t fade away. 

Ritu: Did the people of the village try and help you or try and stop you? 

Hirbai Ben Lobi: Yes, they did try to stop me, but I didn’t stop. I asked myself ‘What do women need the most?’ If the men need money and they don’t have any property, the land belongs to the men and the houses also belong to the men. I figured then I need to ensure that the women also own some property. That way they at least have some confidence in themselves. 

Host: Now unusual in South Asia 900 village women hold assets in their own names. 

Hirbai Ben Lobi: Today, through our women’s cooperative bank, the women have access to money. And the men come and ask their wives if they can borrow some money say a thousand to fifteen hundred rupees. And the women are able to access this instantly. So their position has vastly improved and there has been a lot of improvement in the village too. 

Host: Jambur Ritu finds is a thriving village thanks partly to Hirbai and the co-operative. Money from the co-op even helps the village school. If more women went to school and got paid jobs it’s been estimated the Asia-Pacific region could be ninety billion US dollars a year better off. And tradition’s not forgotten including Gandhi’s favorite hymn known abroad as the one in Slumdog Millionaire. Tradition can be inspiration the hymn calling on all women to be revered as you would your mother. 

Ritu: Now we see more girls are coming to the school what do you think about the way the village is developing? 

Tayeb Bhai Sandh: If a poor and uneducated woman can do so much. If women are educated and they come forward, this will bring a great change in society. 

Nathi Ben Arli Mazgool: It is Hirbai’s generosity that she believes in not only empowering older women, but younger ones too, by educating them because if one girl is well educated, then she is capable of teaching others and being empowered. 

Zari Ben Fakri Mazgool: My husband dissuaded me from joining the co-operative. But even so, I’d go and attend the meetings with Hirbai. When he fell sick he asked me for money, I asked him ‘How he could ask me for money, when he was the one who didn’t let me join the cooperative?’ Nevertheless I withdrew 5,000 rupees from the co- operative and took my husband to the hospital. 

Ritu: Do you ever wonder why God has made you a woman? And burdened you with so many problems? 

Zilu Ben Razab Modi: Thank God I am a woman. If I were a man I would have done nothing. It is because I am a woman that I can accomplish so much. I am happy to be a woman I don’t want to be a man. Host: Next Ritu meets men who want to be women if only for a day, her film on gender discrimination about to take a bizarre twist.

हीराबाईबेन वास्तव में एक शक्तिशाली नारी हैं।


हीराबाईबेन वास्तव में एक शक्तिशाली नारी हैं

हीराबाई बेन लोबी
हीराबाईबेन वास्तव में एक शक्तिशाली नारी हैं। कम उम्र में सर से मां-बाप का साया उठ जाने के बाद  हीराबाईबेन का बचपन बड़ी कठिनाइयों के साथ बीता। लेकिन, उन्होंने कभी भी हिम्मत नहीं हारा। सीमित साधन के बावजूद लगातार चुनौतियों से मुकाबला करते हुए आजीविका के लिए खेती की नई तरीकों का सहारा लिया।  इस प्रकार बैंक से  लोन लेकर उन्होंने जैविक कम्पोस्ट फार्म शुरू करने का फैसला किया, जिसके लिए स्थानीय समुदाय ने आपत्ति भी जताई। लेकिन कडी मेहनत व दृढ निश्चय और गुजरात के सिद्दी समुदाय की महिलाओं की मदद से, उनकी कोशिशों ने रंग लाया। खेती की यह नई वैज्ञानिक विधि हीराबाई बेन कि लिये बहुत फायदेमंद साबित हुआ और जिससे एक लंबे समय तक चल सकने वाला उद्योग की स्थापना हुई। आज भी हीराबाई बेन की सफलता की कहानी जारी है और उनका वर्मीकम्पोस्ट उत्पादक समूह बडे-बडे ब्रांडों से टक्कर लेते हुए, सलाना करीब 700,000 रूपये का कम्पोस्ट की बिक्री करता है।
अतिरिक्त
हीराबाई बेन ने वृहद समाज के कई दूसरे मुद्दों को भी छुआ है और साथ ही कई महिलाओं को भी इसमें भागीदार बनने के लिये प्रेरित किया है। उनके काम का मुख्य केंद्र स्वास्थ्य, आर्थिक आजादी व खेतीबाडी में बेहतरी पर रहा है। यहाँ तक कि उन्होंने अपनी आय व कृषि-व्यापार से मिले एवार्ड व फंड को भी स्थानीय स्कूल के विकास में लगाया है। और अब एक कॉलेज खोलने जा रही हैं।
60 साल की उम्र में हीराबाईबेन अपने तीन बच्चों के लिए ही नहीं, पूरे समाज के लिए प्रेरणा स्रोत हैं।
क्वोटः आपको क्या एक गर्वान्वित नारी बनाता है?
“मुझे गर्व है कि गाँव की एक नारी होने के बावजूद मैंने समुदाय के सदस्यों में आत्म-निर्भरता का भाव भरा है, जहाँ जागरूकता की कमी है व फंड जुटाना आसान काम नहीं है। वे सब मुझे एक प्रेरणास्रोत के रूप में देखते हैं ओर इससे मुझे हिम्मत मिलती है व मैं विनम्र रहती हूँ।”
http://www.redrickshaw.in/hi/the-women/

Hirbaiben began motivating women

Hirbaiben began motivating women



Hirbaiben Lobi (age 55)

Hirbaiben Lobi Ibrahimbhai was born in the village of Jambur (Talala Taluka, Junagadh District, Gujarat state), a Siddi community of tribal people mainly descendants of slaves brought centuries ago from Africa. Orphaned as a child, she was raised by her grandmother. Although inheriting a large debt, she refused to sell her tiny piece of land. Rather, she encouraged her husband to work harder, and with help from listening to radio programs on agricultural development, eventually succeeded in freeing the land from creditors. In 1992, Hirbaiben began motivating women to form women's development groups creating three groups that deal with issues of health, hygiene, savings and credit, and agricultural improvement. Realising the importance of education. Hirbaiben set out to find funds for a day care center and primary school, and convinced the village to assign land that had been allotted to private housing, to be used for a school so village children could study past the primary level. Together with other Siddi women she manufactures and sells organic compost proving that women can prepare a high quality product that can compete on the market. She also had the courage to contest the position of Sarpanch (head of the village government) and, although she lost, she is called the "Sarpanch" of the village and even senior government officials listen to her.


The Siddis, one of Gujarat's most backward communities, have for centuries led life in the shadows, marginalised and illiterate. Now, the future seems brighter for this tribe, thanks to Lobi. Illiterate herself, she is leading a quiet revolution across 18 villages in Saurashtra. Her initiatives include a cooperative movement, family planning, and small savings group. Competing successfully against established brands, her vermicompost manufacturing group sold compost worth Rs 700,000 last year. Helping to build a community school for the Siddis, she's now planning a college. Lobi has won the Women's World Summit Foundation Prize (2002) and the Jankidevi Bajaj Award (2006) for Rural Entrepreneurship.

MAKING OF AN ICON - FORESIGHT AND SWEAT


SUNDAY, MAY 30, 2010

MAKING OF AN ICON - FORESIGHT AND SWEAT

She is of Ethiopian origin, belonging to the Siddis clan whose ancestors were brought to India to Junagadh by the then Nawab, nearly 400 years ago. Resettled in Jambhur village of Talala taluka in Junagadh, by the government, Siddis, especially the women folk look up to Hirbaiben to empower and enlighten them towards a better life.


Hirbaiben Ibrahim Lobi was just a hapless girl of her illiterate, underfed and disempowered clan, who lost her mother at four, father at fourteen and was subsequently married to a landless man. Illiteracy, unemployment, indebtedness and alcoholism were very much rampant among the men folk and it was the women who foraged and sold fuel wood for sustenance.

With half a hectare of land inherited by her from her father on which was a debt of Rs 1 lakh, she was under constant pressure to sell the land to clear her debts. This was where she chose to be different and her life took a new turn.

By sheer hard work she and her husband produced enough from the land to pay off her debts. Today her labour and foresight gives testimony to the mango orchards, coconut trees, vegetable and sugarcane crops that adorn her land. It has a pump set, sprayer and other farm implements also.

Her vision grew and now the betterment of her community was her focus. Realizing the importance of education and self help, with support from, The Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), an NGO, she started a day care center for children and followed it up with a primary school. She went ahead to dispel superstitions and opened a flour mill in the village. Through promotion of self help groups (SHGs), she made a marked achievement by socially and economically empowering Siddis women. Health and hygiene also were her prime concerns. Her efforts bore fruit as 95 women from six villages formed 12 SHGs and started life afresh.

She had entrepreneurial skills also in her which was visible in the project started by her, to manufacture organic manure, branded ‘Panchatatva’ being very conscious of its qualitative standards. Today it is a household name and gives a turnover in lakhs and a comfortable life to many.

Modest as ever, though highly successful, Hirbai enthusiastically loves to share her experiences with visitors, while showing her farm and projects around.

Today she is no less than an icon as not a single women development programme or SHG initiative in Saurashtra takes off without her presence! A gifted orator at that, she is in the limelight at every public function. Undoubtedly, Hirbai is worthy of emulation as a woman of substance with clear foresight and hard work, a shining icon of success whose livelihood initiatives are practical solutions to eradicate rural evils like poverty, illiteracy and indebtedness. Hirbai is the essence of woman power, successfully transforming lives of the underprivileged rural masses to one of empowerment and. enlightenment. She could successful engage, enable and help the rural folks to evolve in life.

Her toothy grin says it all as she looks back on the journey of life, the road taken, from an unknown face among the crowd to one that stands tall as an icon today.

Contributed by Harina, Facilitator, State Bank Learning Centre, Indore

(Based on an article by Julius Machado in the Financial Express)
http://citizensbi.blogspot.in/2010/05/making-of-icon-foresight-and-sweat.html

HIRBAI'S ACHIEVEMENT

Hirbaiben Ibrahim Lobi



Hirbaiben Lobi, 55 Junagadh, Gujarat
For giving backward communities a future to look forward to 


The Siddis, one of Gujarat's most backward communities, have for centuries led life in the shadows, marginalised and illiterate. Now, the future seems brighter for this tribe, thanks to Lobi. Illiterate herself, she is leading a quiet revolution across 18 villages in Saurashtra. Her initiatives include a cooperative movement, family planning, and small savings group. Competing successfully against established brands, her vermicompost manufacturing group sold compost worth Rs 700,000 last year. Helping to build a community school for the Siddis, she's now planning a college. Lobi has won the Women's World Summit Foundation Prize (2002) and the Jankidevi Bajaj Award (2006) for Rural Entrepreneurship.




Hirbaiben Lobi (age 55)




Hirbaiben Lobi Ibrahimbhai was born in the village of Jambur (Talala Taluka, Junagadh District, Gujarat state), a Siddi community of tribal people mainly descendants of slaves brought centuries ago from Africa. Orphaned as a child, she was raised by her grandmother. Although inheriting a large debt, she refused to sell her tiny piece of land. Rather, she encouraged her husband to work harder, and with help from listening to radio programs on agricultural development, eventually succeeded in freeing the land from creditors. In 1992, Hirbaiben began motivating women to form women's development groups creating three groups that deal with issues of health, hygiene, savings and credit, and agricultural improvement. Realising the importance of education. Hirbaiben set out to find funds for a day care center and primary school, and convinced the village to assign land that had been allotted to private housing, to be used for a school so village children could study past the primary level. Together with other Siddi women she manufactures and sells organic compost proving that women can prepare a high quality product that can compete on the market. She also had the courage to contest the position of Sarpanch (head of the village government) and, although she lost, she is called the "Sarpanch" of the village and even senior government officials listen to her.

The Siddis, one of Gujarat's most backward communities, have for centuries led life in the shadows, marginalised and illiterate. Now, the future seems brighter for this tribe, thanks to Lobi. Illiterate herself, she is leading a quiet revolution across 18 villages in Saurashtra. Her initiatives include a cooperative movement, family planning, and small savings group. Competing successfully against established brands, her vermicompost manufacturing group sold compost worth Rs 700,000 last year. Helping to build a community school for the Siddis, she's now planning a college. Lobi has won the Women's World Summit Foundation Prize (2002) and the Jankidevi Bajaj Award (2006) for Rural Entrepreneurship.

Real hero HIRBAI IBRAHIM


Pir, Susanne (IBM) & Ajay (Tribal Dev Dept) Meet with Hirbai Lobi, Inspiring Siddhi Woman at Jambur (Siddhi village near Sasan Gir)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hirbai Ibrahim Lobi – Indigenous Social Entrepreneur


Hirbai Ibrahim Lobi – Indigenous Social Entrepreneur

Sep 2011 by Janhvi Johorey
Hirbai Ibrahim Lobi – Indigenous Social Entrepreneur
Hirbai Ibrahim Lobi from the Siddi community, is a rural entrepreneur whose vision, perseverance and leadership qualities have made her into a beacon of hope and inspiration for women worldwide. Hirbai isthe essence of woman power, a true woman of substance who has transformedthe lot of the illiterate, underfed and disempowered Siddi women of her community into a universally successful model of women’s entrepreneurship.
Hirbai was just another hapless girl of her community, who lost her mother at four, and father at 14. Illiteracy, unemployment, indebtedness and alcoholism were rampant among the menfolk, and women foraged and sold fuel wood from the nearby Gir forests for sustenance.
Her marriage to a landless man did not help matters much. Hirbai had inherited half a hectare from her father, on which she inherited a debt of about Rs 1 lakh. Like all others in the village, she too was under constant pressure to sell the land to clear the debt. This was the starting point in Hirbai’s mission to be different. Hirbai persuaded her husband to till the land, instead. By dint of sheer hard work and better farming, she managed to produce enough over the years to repay the debt and recycle for more. Today, Hirbai’s farm stands a shining testimony to her labour and foresight. Mango orchards,coconut trees, vegetablesand sugarcane crop adorn her land.
 

The land boasts of a well, too, with apump set, sprayer and other farm implements. Having reached a comfort zone in her private life, Hirbai’s next Support Programme (AKRSP), and the state, Hirbai started a day care centre for children and followed it up with a primary school. Cleaning the cobweb of superstition was another job she took on hand. “Jambhur village did not have a flour mill because people believed that it will invite the wrath of Peer Geban shah, whose mausoleum was in the village.” Hirbai narrated to us. (Siddis owe allegiance to Islam). It took her weeks of persuasion and scores of meetings to dispel the myth and open a mill.The most striking achievement of Hirbai is the promotion of the selfhelp groups (SHGs) among the women of her community that has led to their social and economic empowerment.
Starting with one group of women, which addressed health and hygiene issues, Hirbai flitted from locality to locality, village to village spreading the message of SHG.
Today, the effort has borne fruit with 95 women from six villagesin the vicinity having formed 12 such groups known as mahila vikas mandals (MVMs). Hirbai, for all her rustic simplicity, is no ordinary woman. Not resting on her laurels in social awakening, she showed that in entrepreneurial skills she was no less gifted. Hirbai knew that economic uplift was the key to social change. In 1999, with the backing of AKRSP, Hirbai started a project to manufacture organic manure. Involving the women from her own SHG, the Nagarchi MVM, Hirbai offered her farm precincts to make compost for the venture, and gave a guarantee that she would buy all the 200 bags, if unsold. Mid-day meal, tea and snacks were thrown in for the women workers. Today, the organic manure, which has been branded as “Panchatatva”, is a household name among farmers in the area, and brings in lakhs of rupees as turnover.
For all her achievements, Hirbai remains as modest as ever and is willing to share her experiences. She shows unbridled enthusiasm in taking visitors around her farm and the compost production unit. Hirbai today holds an iconic status in not only Junagadh but also most parts of Gujarat. Not a single women development programme or SHG initiative in Saurashtra takes off without her presence. A gifted orator with hands-on experience of women empowerment, she is never short of words at public functions. Here is a women of substance and a shining icon of success,whose livelihood initiatives for rural women are worthy of emulation everywhere.