“This is what is the situation of many women there. They are cheated, exploited, and then, quite often, they get scolded or their voices are suppressed by family members who are so-called educated.”
The next month, Sr. Daphne asked Lilly to share her experience at a meeting in the village. The other women quickly expressed empathy. “For them it was common, and they came up with each one of their stories, and they said, ‘oh I am not allowed to talk in the family. Whenever I open my mouth they say, “you don’t understand, you keep quiet.” Our opinion is not taken.’”
Many women expressed their desire to be educated as children, but they had been kept away to look after siblings or see to the domestic work.
“I said, ‘the time and opportunity is not lost. Would you like to be educated?’” recounted Sr. Daphne.
“In one voice, they all said ‘yes! We would like to be!’”
In that village, they began classes for 1.5 hours a day, six days a week. For eight months, the women were taught about alphabets and numbers, monetary notes, how to read bank books, and how to write accounts. They were also exposed to government documents and instructed in how to fill out a government application.
“Today, Lilly is the secretary of that group,” said Sr. Daphne.
“The whole life had changed in that village. These women themselves, when the village meetings are held, they go – they sit there for the meetings. If there are some important issues which are ignored, they themselves bring it (up).”
The results of Sr. Daphne’s efforts are tangible and widespread.
“In the past three years, these women have motivated 600 women for this literacy program…In all the 12-13 villages where these women are educated, the whole life had changed. In the livelihood, the cheating is minimized. Their relationships are better; the health status is better. The important thing is that every child from this village now is going to school.”
Sr. Daphne hopes that the Church, which “is working really selflessly in the corners of the nation where our government has not reached,” can continue offering help to women and through them, the wider culture.
If “one Lilly” is “promoted in every village, our nation will see very different things,” she concluded.