Binta Devi

Binta Devi

Binta Devi became a young widow when her husband, a truck driver, died of HIV/AIDS. Her late husband’s family blamed Binta for his death, and she, along with her two children, was ostracized by her family. She was confined to a tiny, dark room with a leaking roof, where her in-laws physically and verbally abused her. Her children were forced to drop out of school. They became malnourished and emaciated. That’s when the local Mahila Mandal and the self-help group stepped in. Binta and her children underwent HIV testing, and, fortunately, the results confirmed that they were all HIV-negative. With Mahila Mandal’s help, Binta got access to food from the government’s public distribution system.

The family received counseling from CORD’s informal legal cell team regarding women’s rights and the transmission modes of HIV/AIDS. Through the concerted efforts and pressure exerted by the Mahila Mandal, Binta’s rightful place within her home was ultimately secured.

The Mahila Mandal further interacted with the school, where the teachers forced Binta’s children out of the school out of fear of HIV/AIDS. After much pressure from the Mahila Mandal, the children were readmitted to the school. The women’s group also ensured that Binta received a widow pension from the government and enrolled her in the Self-Help Group (SHG) to help her access micro-credit. She was motivated to learn sewing and joined CORD’s sewing training program. Within two years, she became self-reliant. Binta now trains other girls and is an important micro-entrepreneur.

Binta’s story reminds us that we all deserve to live a dignified and healthy life.