success story :
the outcome of Community Service Program| SEHER
Bhagubai lives in Kashewadi along with her husband, her son, daughter in law and grandson. She lost her 2 daughters, 1 recently to a prolonged illness, while a third lives nearby. This daughter is married but estranged from her husband, has a 15 year old daughter and used to stay with Bhagubai till about recently. She shifted to another location on account of her constant fights with her sister in law.
Bhagubai was identified by the fieldworkers on a cue from her neighbour. The neighbour told them of a woman next door who never came out of the house, seemed very fearful and hardly spoke to anyone. She would sit in a corner all day if not engaged in household chores. The fieldworkers made contact with her family, built rapport and encouraged them to get Bhagubai for an assessment to the centre.
Bhagubai’s was diagnosed as having borderline clinical depression by the psychologist. In addition she reported of voice hearing, suicidal thoughts, fear, and intrusive thoughts; and answered irrelevantly when spoken to. She was referred for a variety of services along with group therapy.
She had to be escorted to the group initially after repeated and intensive follow ups. She refused to come to the groups or to the centre as she felt very scared to step out. She was sacred to leave her house, her children and her family ‘alone’. On further enquiry her story gave us a context of this fear.
Many years back, she used to work as a domestic help. All her children were very small at that time. She used to leave them in care of each other and go to work. One day when she returned home, she realized that her eldest daughter, aged 7 years was missing. She searched every nook and corner in the community, frantically. Her husband was not at home at that time. The other kids were too small to assist her.
She stopped eating and was sleepless for a number of days after this incident. Her daughter was never found.
Since then she stopped coming out of her house fearing the safety of her other children. Though she did all chores in the house, she almost stopped speaking to anyone and would spend her time just sitting in one corner. Her children grew up, they had families of their own.
Slowly her daughter in law pushed all household chores onto her entirely. She would deny her food and asked her to cook her own for herself and her husband. She abused her verbally and treated her like a servant.
She did not allow her to touch her grandchild. All this however happened when Bhagubai's son was not around. And since she never spoke, he never knew about all this for a very long time. She started fearing everyone.
When Bhagubai started coming to the group, she behaved exactly like she did at home, sitting in one corner, guarded, not speaking to anyone and needed to be escorted to and fro. Over a period of time, she entered the inner circle of the group from the outer fringes knowing that everyone was a bit like her and she herself was a bit like everyone else.
This association may have been helpful to put her ‘group people’s’ fear to some rest.
Gradually she started interacting little by little, to group members.
Her age probably naturally evoked a motherly feeling in her for the other members who were much younger to her.
She started taking a lead in caring for other members, probably filling a vacuum left in her heart a long time back. Form being escorted she came to escort 2 other members living close to her to and from the sessions. She encouraged people through her own example and often said that she never thought that she could have her life back. She gave a lot of credit to the fieldworkers who did not give up on her inspite of her reluctance and refusal to access services.
If they had, things would have been different now.
Today she works as a domestic help, has asserted her space and rights in her family, can stand up to face any circumstances and is well enough to safeguard oneself from abuse. She supports herself and her family financially through her work. She also refers other people to centre from her neighbourhood and work spaces, including her own employer!!.
Her family issues were successfully resolved through intensive family interventions. The local government counselors (from the urban community development department) were roped in to work with the family on physical abuse.The neighbours were alerted and they became the local guardians for her,
stepping in to intervene when she perceived or experienced threat or abuse from the family. Her group members gave her the strength of solidarity and oneness which made her confident enough to find her lost voice, speak up and stand up for oneself.
Bhagubai- an old lady sitting at a corner in the house, not bothering anyone, doing her work. Outwardly all looked ok, but when you really look and really look in to the lives of so many who are silenced such, the many who look ok but are far from feeling so, then only then can you hear the enormous pain they carry within, crying out for help, a cry only a few can hear! Its people like her who give the purpose, the motivation, the energy for us to carry on what we have started.
This was story 4.
It is a true story.
Read the next story.
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