Malayamma Savings Mama

by Mara Forbes


Malayamma, a savings collector with the Mahila Milan poor women’s network, begins each day walking house-to-house collecting the daily savings of members residing in Bangalore’s Vinobha Nagar settlement. It is the very settlement in which she grew up and where her family has lived for generations. Malayamma’s grandparents moved into the settlement some 60 years ago when they emigrated from Pondicherry in search of work. Her father was born and raised in Vinobha Nagar and Malayamma was the second of eleven children born in a small house with a blue door by the Hindu temple that marks the entrance to the settlement. Clad in a turquoise and white sari, with her trusty calculator tucked into the side (see photo above), she carries an oversized handbag full of savings books and sets off for a long day of collections. I also notice a decent sized tattoo on her right forearm. She later tells me she was tricked into getting it at the age of 10. The tattoo artist told her it was temporary and that it would come off with a little turmeric powder. After some panicked scrubbing of the rangoli-style design with turmeric it became clear the tattoo wasn’t going anywhere. “I was seriously beaten by my father for that” she chuckles.

Click the photo above for her full story.