Sumitraben Ramjibhai Soliya

The fire to do something in life had always been there in Sumitraben. But due to family constraints, she had to follow her family’s wishes and got married at a very young age, which dampened all her dreams. But due to certain circumstances and situations in her life, a blessing came in the form of a disguise in her life, when she met the community mobilizer of Empower Foundation in her pada, in Silvassa.

Sumitraben Ramjibhai Soliya had been residing in Khadi Pada, in Rakholi Panchayat of Silvassa for more than 20 years. She had spent her childhood at her father’s place but because of an impoverished family background she had never got the chance to enter an educational institution. But even without entering the boundaries of a school, she tried to incorporate interpersonal skills and other non-institutionalised education in herself. According to her had always tried to get an opportunity to attend school but she couldn’t. As time passed, she realised her capabilities but due to old traditions in her family she was married off to a newly practicing astrologer cum priest. After marriage she had 7 children which led to living in economic constraints. Her  husband’s income was not sufficient to support her family. And for this reason she took up her hobby of fishing as her profession and started practicing in the same area. According to her, her hands at fishing are impressive which helps her to earn, on a daily basis Rs. 250 to 300 INR. But this amount too isn’t sufficient to feed her family’s needs. Her persistent efforts in trying to improve her family’s economic conditions, has gone into vain though she has tried to adapt varied economic activities at all points in her life. She has also tried to do seasonal agricultural activity to earn extra income. She always motivates her children to become established in their lives. This has fetched good results as two of her sons are currently working in the local factory and have also been supporting their family.

She had joined this project to learn functional literacy which would fulfil her ambitions and dreams of her childhood of getting education. As per her she has always faced a lot of problems in maintaining cash flow of her small fishing business. To learn to do simple numerical calculations, she joined the Badlaav program. She believes in hard work, confidence and persistence. According to her “Aaj na samay ma bhanvu khubaj jarure che” (Translation – for today’s generation education is a basic necessity). “Pahlana Samay ma Bhanvu mate khoob muskil hatu pan hamna ae khubaj saral rite aapne abhiyas kar sakiye chea” (Translation – Earlier acquiring education was not simple and easy. There were restrictions but now it is present everywhere). She wants to motivate her community people especially the women around her to become a minimal literate which would help them in their course of lives.