Illiterate Village Woman Finds a Leader Within
Lacho Devi lives in Bhajera village in the Mewat district of Haryana. Despite not being able to read, she learned about the rights and entitlements of villagers through Sehgal Foundation’s Good Governance Now training program. She learned that under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA), workers are supposed to receive job cards and be paid their wages within two weeks. The act prohibits employment of middlemen and use of machinery.
Lacho discovered that machines were being used in the MGNREGA work in Bhajera. The local Sarpanch (village council head) had also not distributed many of the local villagers’ job cards and was keeping them for himself. Lacho was initially unsure whether she should notify authorities about the corruption, as the Sarpanch was her father-in-law. However, she quickly decided that she was determined to fight this injustice.
Lacho arranged a meeting with her fellow villagers and informed them about the MGNREGA rules. The group then made a formal complaint to the Sarpanch, but he refused to listen. The villagers wrote to the Additional Deputy Commissioner. The commissioner called the Sarpanch to the district headquarters in Nuh and told him to resolve the problem immediately. The following day, 42 job cards were distributed to the rightful holders. Over 100 villagers that worked two weeks under MGNREGA were paid their wages at work completion.
By providing knowledge and a little support, the Good Governance Now initiative has helped create many local leaders like Lacho. Lacho learned to recognize problems in her community and take action to address them. Sehgal Foundation will be continuing the Good Governance Now initiative and looks forward to seeing more empowered villagers like Lacho.
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