Urmila’s alcoholic husband used to beat her every day and even tried to sell her to his drinking mates. That’s when Urmila ran away to her in-law’s home in the middle of the night with her four little children. However, her husband kept disturbing her and the children. Her situation was so deplorable that the villagers advised her to live with some other men, but Urmila refused to get into such a relationship.

That’s when CORD members intervened. Urmila started working as a clinic attendant and later was trained as a Village Health Guide by CORD. With her diligence and hard work, she soon emerged as an excellent community development worker. Further, she also used her skills to change other people’s lives in the community. She helped strengthen the Mahila Manda, SHGs, Adolescent Girls’ Groups, Farmers and Youth Groups, and Children’s Groups.

Urmila started by leading a team of women group facilitators at CORD as a supervisor and later as Chief Community Development Worker. She also got elected as the ward representative in her Gram Panchayat and started promoting local self-governance.

Recalling an incident about Urmila’s growth, Dr Metre shares an incident where Urmila represented CORD to speak about the functioning of SHGs at a state-level seminar in Shimla, Himachal Pradesh. Dr Metre was one of the panelists at the seminar but could not attend and instead asked Urmila to share the story of how SHGs had successfully helped transform lives in the region. Although the hall was crowded with senior state officials, heads of various government departments, and district commissioners, Urmila spoke non-stop for one-and-a-half hours, sharing her field experience. She received a standing ovation at the end of her speech. Urmila Devi passed away on April 14, 2016, due to progressive neurological disease.

Urmila’s story inspires millions of women fighting for a dignified living.