Pictured above: Divya (on right) with other members of her savings group
Divya’s* son, Rakesh, had been sick for years. His coughing, fevers, and colds were nonstop and left him feeling weak. Eventually, he couldn’t walk even a short distance. She’d taken him to hospitals and doctors in their community in South Asia* but never received a clear diagnosis for his worsening symptoms.
Then she received startling news: “One day, the doctor said that my son had a hole in his heart, and he [needed] to undergo the operation,” Divya recalls. “I was shocked.”
But a second blow was soon to come: how to pay for the procedure without falling into a lifetime of debt.
Limited options during crisis
It was hard for Divya to know where to turn for help with covering the cost of the surgery.
Not to her husband. After experiencing abuse at his hands, she’d moved with her children to a different community to be safe from him. “My husband used to beat me very badly,” she says. “[He] did not care about us.”
Not to her parents. Her mother had passed away, and her aging father wasn’t in a position to help.
Not to her workplace. The owner of the rock quarry—where she worked for $7 a week as a day laborer without healthcare—had not been supportive. “Whenever Rakesh was sick and needed to visit a doctor, our quarry owner would not allow us to go,” she says.
Not to her savings. “I had never saved money before,” she shares. “If I had $12 or $6 with me, I used to spend [it] for the needs of my family.”
In the end, Divya says, “I had to borrow $850 from my relatives to pay for my son’s heart surgery.”
A new alternative & a new hope
For many around the world, taking out this loan would have led to a lifetime of debt, without a way to escape.
But Divya was invited to join other women in her community to form a savings group, led by HOPE’s partner in South Asia. “When the savings groups were introduced to me, I believed that savings groups were my only hope to save money little by little,” she recalls.
In the beginning, Divya set aside about $37 a year. Her savings helped her to buy clothes for her children, pay her electric bills, and make repairs to her home. “Every year, savings brought change in my family’s situations,” she adds.
Eventually, she was able to pay off the loan she took for Rakesh’s surgery.
Holistic impact—for Divya, her family, and her community
Beyond financial stability, the savings group provided the emotional and social support Divya craved. “In the savings group meetings, we share our problems with each other and pray together,” she says.
And Divya received the Good News of the Gospel through her group: “I came to know the Lord after our facilitator from [HOPE’s partner] came to our village and shared the Word of God in savings groups.”
Today, after years of hard labor, Divya’s own health has kept her from being able to work in the rock quarry—but she has a new job. With her group’s encouragement, a small loan, and some savings, she’s opened a small shop in her home, selling snacks and household necessities to her neighbors.
“If I did not join the savings group, my life would be difficult with debts and problems,” she says. “But now, with the help of a savings group, not only is our family surviving, but we are also able to help others who are in need in my community.”
Meet Divya and hear her share her own story in this four-minute video.
*Name changed and location withheld for security