Meet Reena, one of the happiest people in the world. Not proclaimed by any survey or media outlets, but self-declared. Reena says, “She is a queen.”
Now, read her story. A disabled, Reena lost her mother as a child and was married off to another disabled person, a man with hearing disability. Being ill treated at her in-laws, one night she ran off with her infant daughter to her father’s house. Her situation worsened post her divorce and her father’s death. Her brother forged her signature and withdrew all her compensation money and separated her from the house. Finally, her relatives forced her to remarry. The second husband turned out to be an alcoholic and she had to struggle each day to make her ends meet.
Reena says, “I didn’t want to remarry. If I wasn’t happy at the first instance, there was no way I would have been happy the second time. But now that I was married I didn’t want to quit. I struggled hard, worked and made my husband realise that alcohol isn’t good. Finally, he left drinking and I have now become a queen. I am very happy, maybe the happiest person in the world.”
From a one-room hut, Reena now has a pucca (semi-constructed) house, with a cow and four goats. She saves all her disability compensation in the bank as she says her husband provides her with enough money. She says she feels on the top-of-the-world and is very happy with her life.
If Reena could be happy, why can’t we be?
Reena was supported by the unique initiative of Chinmaya Organisation for Rural Development (CORD) that has been empowering women in the rural areas for the last 32 years. Under their Social Justice programme, Reena’s cause had been presented to the Panchayat (local governance). She and her daughter from her first marriage were provided with identity certification, which helped her in claiming benefits from the government. Further, CORD helped her build a toilet at her home under the Total Sanitation Campaign of the Indian Government.