The ‘Selfie with the daughter’ campaign not only took the country by storm but also opened the door to the women’s world in Bibipur village, Haryana. “Every street in the village is named after a daughter and the elders in the village advocate the beti padao, beti bachao initiative,” says 67-year-old Ompathi. She and other older women visit nearby villages and explain (especially) to fathers that a daughter is not a burden and she can do him proud. “I tell them that the girl can grow up to be a Priyanka Chopra or a Smriti Irani. You never know,” she laughs. RC Delhi Midtown, D 3011, is not only sensitising the women of Bibipur on healthcare, hygiene and education but also changing their perspective towards moral and social responsibilities.
Ramp show for elderly couples
Sunil Jaglan (33), former Sarpanch of Bibipur and initiator of the ‘Selfie with the daughter’ says, “lack of awareness is the main cause of discrimination. If the elders of the family are sensitised then discrimination can be zeroed.” After counselling and conducting group meetings with village elders, the club came up with an idea of conducting a fashion show for the old couples in the village, where they walked hand in hand and the man lifted the ghunghat of his wife to symbolise banishing the age-old practice of women covering their faces.
Kelo Devi (73) recalls how she walked the ramp with her husband, “Maza to aya lekin sharam bhi aayi, itne logon ke beech unhon ey pehli bar mera haat pakda (it was fun, but I felt shy because it was the first time my husband held my hand in public).” Their message to the granddaughters of the village: “Tum phado, tum badho, tumhey pankh hum denge,” won them the best Jodi award.
The people who came from Rotary taught us to take pride in our cooking. I don’t buy noodles from the baniya anymore.
The Million Dollar Sarpanch
Jaglan works with the club and helps to execute the many programmes Rotary is initiating in the village. Proud of being mentioned in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s different speeches four times, he hopes to meet Modi someday and take a selfie with him. He has won several awards including a whopping Rs 1 crore from the Haryana Chief Minister, part of which was used for his village’s development.
He is concerned about the health of his village’s women and their empowerment. “Women underestimate themselves. We have to sensitise them on that first. Being careless about themselves, but caring for the entire family, leads nowhere,” he says. So when RC Delhi Midtown wanted to start a nutrition programme in the village, “Jaglan helped us reach out to the women in his village,” says Mrida Joshi, who is assisting her husband, Club President Bharat Joshi, in the women’s empowerment programmes in the village.
Around 200 women from the village participated in the Best Chef of Bibipur contest through which the club stressed on cleanliness in the kitchen, storage of food and use of indigenous ingredients that are available locally for everyday cooking. “Packaged food is easily available and the buzz that it is a sign of affluence forces these innocent women to buy and cook it. We wanted them to understand that cooking traditional recipes keeps our culture alive and gives us the necessary nutrition,” says Mrida.
Best cooking practices
Experts shared their views on nutrition, best cooking practices and connection between diet and health and distributed a diet-chart and healthy recipes to the villagers. “The people who came from Rotary taught us to take pride in our cooking. I don’t buy noodles from the baniya anymore,” says Bimla whose khet ka khana bagged the first prize.
RC Delhi Midtown set up an RO water plant and a digital projector in the village school as part of its WinS and TEACH programme. Jaibhagwan, the caretaker of the school, says, “Everyday children line up to drink water and fill their tiny water bottles. They want to share the good water with their families.”