While we often complain about the huge divide between the rural and urban areas, there are few who muster courage to come out of comfort zone and do something for our society. Ushma Goswami is one such woman who is working for the upliftment of underprivileged sections of society and bring them on par with what is considered a basic necessity for human civilisation. Hailing from Chandigarh, Ushma completed post graduate in political science from Delhi’s Lady Sriram College.
Before appearing for UPSC exam, Ushma wanted to give one year of her life to society. She was selected for the SBI Youth for India Fellowship in 2016 and chose to work in the area of governance. Despite her upbringing in north India, Ushma chose to work with DHAN Foundation, that mostly enagages in south India. She had been studying the various social differences between the urban and the rural, castes, and the privileged and underprivileged sections.
“I wanted to come out of my comfort zone and work. I have never been to a village before this and I had no clue of the languages spoken in the southern regions of our country. As I aspire to apply for foreign services in UPSC, I wanted to take up the challenge of the language barrier too. I am glad I did that as you get to know how blessed you are to communicate through a language only when you cannot use it,” Better India quoted her as saying.
After her arrival in B. Seehalli Panchayat in Bannur Hobali Village of Mysore District on August 19, she indded found that language is big barrier at her work
She was assigned to open a paralegal clinic here to provide small scale legal advice to resolve small issues for which courts can be avoided. However, this ides did not work and no one turned to her institute. Not to give up so easily, She started visiting Village’s Anganwadi and started connecting with village kids. Gradually she learnt the langauge and started connecting with their parents also. Then she was told that many villagers still defecate in open as they don’t have toilets at home.
She started with the survey of both the panchayats. She would go door to door and check about the toilets and found that nearly 400 households were without any. She started convincing the villagers who gave her various excuses to not build toilets at home. However, Ushma countered them explaining how they are compromising with hygiene and the problems they would face during pregnancy and with a newborn.
“If nothing worked, I would tell them that everyone else is going to build a toilet and then they would be all alone to go to the jungle, which would be so unsafe and boring,” Better India quoted Ushma as saying. She also started teaching English to the class 10 students along with her fellow-co-worker. Ushma proudly shares the result of the students today, saying that the highest scorer in English scored 85%. By this time, she had build a good connect with the child’s parents.
Later, she faced another challenge in collecting documents to build toilets at their home. Many villagers did not have ration or Aadhaar card. She then applied for the documents which helped them get loan of Rs. 20,000 each to 38 villagers who did not have money to build a toilet. After 10 months of hardwork, Ushma has succeeded in her mission. She has helped to build toilets for 70 households in Seehali and Kodagahalli Panchayat. She also explained to the villagers about the importance of paralegal clinics and succeeded in opening one in Seehali panchayat and participated in more than 10 RTI campaigns. She aims to build atleast 200 toilets in both the panchayats before the end of her project in 2017.
Take a bow Ushma Goswami