Meet Kunti MoryaOctober 11th, 2023
"I am grateful that MarketPlace thought in advance of us needing medical help, because I don't know how I would have managed."
EMBROIDERY ARTISAN AT ARPAN CO-OPERATIVE
Kunti has been part of Arpan Co-operative from its founding over 30 years ago. Her earnings have sustained the family though many difficult times. Even today she is the one taking care of many of the family's expenses. She is very proud of the independence and self-reliance she has achieved.
In 2016 she learned of another idea which could help her continue to be in charge of her own future. SHARE introduced health insurance for the artisans. "When health insurance was first spoken about in our group, I had no idea what it meant or what it could do," Kunti explains. "Everything was explained in detail, and we had a lot of discussions. Because everyone felt it was a good thing, I also signed up. It was the best decision I have made where health is concerned."
Kunti has benefitted from her health insurance four times, 3 for herself and once for her husband. Her husband was able to receive proper medical care in a private hospital before he passed away in 2019. Having experienced the difference between state-run facilities versus private care, Kunti has been extremely grateful for having insurance to pay the bills. In total, Kunti's insurance policy has covered medical claims worth Rs. 150,000.
She found that having insurance has made dealing with doctors and hospitals less intimidating and threatening. "The first time I had to use my insurance card, I called my son as I was unsure how this would work. But everything was so smooth and easy. We didn't have to pay anything." Subsequent visits were similarly problem-free.
For many Indians, who do not have insurance, consulting a doctor or going to a hospital can be difficult and can lead to financial crises. "I am grateful that MarketPlace thought in advance of us needing medical help. I don't know how I would have managed otherwise. We try to save, but there are so many issues that arise in life that it is hard to put money away. The insurance allows us not to use up our savings for health and so this is my true savings."
The 20 women in Arpan took their cooperative's name from the Sanskrit for "offerings". Established in 1999, Arpan is located in Thane, a city of 1.2 million northeast of Mumbai. Although Thane is an industrial center, there are few jobs for women. A community nonprofit contacted MarketPlace to see about starting a group here as there were women who were eager to earn a living and be independent.
Arpan members place a high value on developing leadership skills. They are known for their very organized workplace, which they feel helps them be efficient. They clearly enjoy celebrations together, dressing in coordinated saris with flowers in their hair. At the workshop they eat lunch together in a circle. They are strong agents of social change in their community, using skills they have learned at work and from programs to take on social problems such as sanitation and access to clean water.