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PO Box A524
Sydney South NSW 1235, Level 11, 227 Elizabeth Street Sydney NSW 2000

Telephone: 1800 812 164

© 2024 Opportunity International AustraliaABN 83 003 805 043

The day I met Bhikhiben

By Nicole Clements

I remember the day I met Bhikhiben, one of our remarkable clients and her children in rural Gujarat.

It was warm and sunny in her village and her kitchen and home were small for her family, but she stood out with her smile, her hands decorated in henna and an air of dignity.

I felt a deep connection as shared with me her dreams for the future and many of the struggles they had as a family.

Nicole Clements with BhikhibenOpportunity International Australia's Head of Communications & Marketing, Nicole Clements, with Bhikhiben

Bhikhiben’s mother died when she was only young. On the day my dad died last year my colleagues were again visiting her community and we spoke via a translator on the phone, and I felt a deep connection between us.

Sadly, as a teenager, her life was plunged into crisis. As the eldest of five children, she had to quit school ... to care for her younger siblings.

Coming from a poor rural village in Gujarat, India, her dreams for the future were shattered overnight.

The responsibility felt overwhelming.

But despite the hardship in her, I saw the fierce determination in her eyes, for her and her children to have better opportunities.

Thankfully through a small loan a few years ago from Opportunity International Australia’s partner in India, her world has turned around for the better.

Buying a cow, she was able to grow her own small dairy farm, which today has both cows and buffalo. The income from the milk is helping Bhikhiben break the cycle of poverty in her family’s life.

I saw her incredible resourcefulness as a mother, getting up early to take care of them, prepare them for their school day and then her pride in talking to the teachers about how well they are doing well at school. I also saw her tenacity and resourcefulness in building her business and making every dollar go further.

The end goal is a better future for her and her children.

Nicole with Bhikhiben's community

Sadly, families like Bhikhiben’s have been buffeted by forces outside their control, by services that exclude them, yet we have seen women like Bhikhiben rise time and time again.

She exuded joy and passion for her children, yet sadly she lacked the economic means to give them a better home, educational opportunities that would equip them.

I felt grateful that thanks to Opportunity’s support through a small loan, delivered through local partners in India, her livestock business is equipping her with a different picture, and practical steps to achieve it.

This wouldn’t be possible without your support and I love that we do it together, for women like Bhikhiben. I don’t think I’ll forget her.

Together, we are making a real difference. Together, we unlock Opportunity. Thank you.

If you'd like to give to Opportunity's end of financial year appeal featuring Bhikhiben, please donate today.

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