Success Stories - Safina Bano, Kotava village in Varanasi

Safina Bano is a clothing and textile producer with Drishtee.  23 years old, Safina is well aware of the limitations that society places on women  and determined to prove to her family and the society around her that “girls can do anything and everything”. When asked what pulled her towards Drishtee, she responded, “The rural community has a narrow and backward view of womens’ capacities. All they think girls are good for is marriage. I want to prove them wrong.”  For Safina,Drishtee’s Swavlamban program is a platform through which girls and women in the rural community can fulfill their potential. “Drishtee is a ray of hope for me.” Safina who is also a teacher and  principal at a madarsa (a primary school supported by Muslim community) in her village. “My father is a member of the madrasa committee. He told me that there is no one to look after the madarsa. At that time, it had just been one and a half months since I joined Drishtee. I saw giving my time at the madarsa as another opportunity to do productive work. That’s when it all started. You see, Drishtee has been the beginning of taraqqi – progress – for me.” Safina teaches general education subjects at the Madrasa to children between 8-12 years of age, and manages the madarsa’s complete operations. “I started teaching at the Madrasa because I want to spread my way of thinking. I want more “Safinas” in our community.” Her journey has not been without its own set of challenges. Initially, she received taunts and comments from people, that she is trying to be different and trying to show people that she can earn. Her family too did not want her to go out and work. “I don’t care what other people say. As far as my family is concerned, they stopped taunting me when I bought my own stitching machine.” Her second-hand stitching machine was bought from her savings of 4000 INR – the amount she earned over one year with Drishtee from stitching approximately 30-35 pieces. “A girl’s first income is a big deal for her. My first ever income was from Drishtee. I felt independent and realized that I can do much more if I want to. I called several meetings to gather women and connect them as producers.  Safina did not take training from Drishtee before becoming a producer. In fact, she says, “I have never taken any kind of professional training. My mother stitched clothes and I have learnt by observing her. I love to stitch and can make any design that people ask me Plus, I stitch very fast.” Safina has been stitching for some time and takes orders from customers other than the ones she gets through Drishtee. “I do work on my own but I enjoy the work with Drishtee more because it connects me with people.” Safina has been a part of the Swavlamban journey for a year now and hopes that her dreams will take flight through opportunities that Drishtee brings her.