Jambati Kerar studied only till Class III. Today, at 50 years of age, she is serving her third consecutive term as the sarpanch from Phoolbun village in Madhya Padesh. Perhaps that is why she is using her position to ensure that her village has more schools with easy accessibility and quality teachers.
Jambati describes herself very simply. “I live with my husband. We have three children. My husband and I also do farming”. But for the villagers, Jambati has achieved a lot and considerably improved the quality of their lives. Lack of an educational qualification never deterred Jambati from achieving her goals.
During her tenure, she has ensured the construction of a 5 kms long concrete road, constructed a centre for anganwadi workers, added eight rooms to the primary school, made provision for a sports field for the villagers, built three shanti dhams for travellers and installed 5-6 tube wells for safe drinking water. She has also started Adivasi Samorahand Gram Rakshak Samiti, an organisation which looks after the concerns of the villagers.
But Jambati still feels a lot more needs to be done. Connectivity is a big problem in her village. During the monsoons, roads get flooded and areas remain inaccessible for long periods. Phones do not work properly; and even STD/ISD booth phones malfunction. Access to quality education is another problem that needs to be addressed. The higher secondary school is almost 23 kms away and many children drop out because of that.
Jambati is planning to install solar lamps to address electricity problems, construct dams to control floods, and also build higher secondary schools in the area. Living in an area where basic infrastructure is largely missing, Jambati has worked hard to overcome hurdles. Her husband and father-in-law have previously held the position of sarpanch. She had learnt a lot from their experiences and is thankful for their support.
She owns and uses a mobile phone for making calls. For Jambati, a computer is something she has seen but never used. Jambati believes that as infrastructure gradually improves, things will slowly begin to fall in place. She has years of experience to fall back on and years of learning to look forward to.