Gulli’s selfless service to her village
Mai means mother, a salutation given with respect to women in their old age. However, for seventy-five-year-old Gulli, this acknowledgment does not just come from her age. Gulli’s neighbors honor her for her selfless contribution to causes close to her heart. Gulli lives with her husband in village Devka Dewra in Samra panchayat in Alwar, Rajasthan. They have no children. Their difficult financial situation does not affect Gulli’s will to help others nor does it stop her from using her meager savings for charitable purposes. God-fearing as are many old Indian women, Gulli has dedicated her life to many social activities that serve others.
Gulli’s dream for a water-secure village
Gulli had a dream in which she saw the shadow of an animal wandering in the woods in the search of water about two kilometers away from her village. Gulli said, “The place I saw in my dream was the place where I often took my animals to graze.” In the dream, she heard two heavenly voices direct her to dig a johad (a storage tank that collects and stores rainwater throughout the year, to be used for drinking by people and cattle) in the village. When she awoke, Gulli felt sure that the dream was God’s signal to her to do something about water issues in her village. When she told her husband about the dream, he laughed and advised her not to waste their hard-earned savings on such a futile activity. He warned Gulli to keep in mind that they were aging and their health could decline and require financial support at any time. But Gulli had made up her mind to fulfill her dream of a water-secure village. She inspected the site she saw in her dream for suitability of building a johad. She was willing to sell her gold ornaments to get the water source made. In further pursuit of her goal, Gulli spoke with the field staff of Sehgal Foundation working on water projects in the area. Sehgal Foundation agreed to fund the project.
Sehgal Foundation staff started working with Gulli to make her dream a reality. The total cost of digging a johad was determined, and Gulli made a significant contribution to get the work started. She kept her contribution a secret from her husband.
After ten days, when the johad work was completed, Gulli asked her husband to accompany her to the johad to see the results. Her husband was happy to see the johad and smiled at Gulli, knowing that she had surely contributed to this work. Gulli reciprocated his unspoken appreciation with a smile and said, “My dream was fulfilled. God bless you.”
Touched by Gulli’s contribution to the village, other villagers came forward to offer support and unanimously decided to name the johad after her. The johad now serves as a water source for wild animals and has increased the green cover in the forest.