This Women’s Day, let’s celebrate the lives of some of our exceptional members, who have dared to break the shackles of convention and managed to create a niche of their own.
One of our members, Mrs Indrani Paul, shares with Mousumi Gupta how the streak of social service in her drives her to rebuild the lives of destitute girls and women for almost 40 years.
“I have been pitching in with voluntary service at the All Bengal Women’s Union for more than 36 years. I still go there to their Elliot Road campus in central Kolkata twice a week,” said Mrs Paul, with distinct pride in her voice.
Briefing about the history of the ABWU, she said: “The organisation was set up in 1933 to help helpless and exploited women. We work with the varied age groups, right from newborn girls to elderly women. Abandoned, abused or orphaned children are often brought home by government /non-government agencies. Even the elderly, who have lost their families or been abandoned by their families, live our organisation peacefully and with dignity.”
The modest Mrs Paul was the secretary of the All Bengal Women’s Union for quite a long time.
The organisation also provides shelter and security to women, who have been victims of abuse, trafficking, etc. It provides them medical attention and trauma therapy.
“Once the women are mentally and physically fine, we train them in cooking, knitting and stitching to make them self-reliant and bring them back to the mainstream. There are old-age homes, working women’s hostels and children’s home on the campus,” said Mrs Paul.
The All Bengal Women’s Union launched Suruchi, the first home-cooked self-help Bengali restaurant in Kolkata, run by all women members way back in 1969.
Many women, after completing the training, joined different workplaces and now have their own houses and live independently.
On a pleasant note, Mrs Paul recalled: “Once my husband and I had stopped at a petrol pump for refuelling, when a woman attendant walked up to our car and introduced herself as one of the boarders at the All Bengal Women’s Union whom the organisation trained.”
“It’s looking at girls and women like her, who are well settled in life and are earning independently that gives me an immense of pride and satisfaction about ABWU’s success.”
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