In an unexpected stroke of luck, a team of 11 women sanitation workers in Kerala, southern India, joined forces to purchase a lottery ticket in June and were thrilled to discover they had won a staggering prize of INR100 million ($1.2 million).
These hardworking women, who are responsible for collecting non-biodegradable waste, typically struggle to make ends meet, with monthly household payments of INR250 and earnings from the sale of segregated waste by the local corporation. In search of a chance at a better life, they occasionally pool funds to purchase lottery tickets, even though private lotteries are forbidden in many Indian states.
This time around, the group decided to invest INR250 on a ticket for the monsoon bumper prize lottery, a special event held during festivals. MP Radha, one of the team members, usually takes charge of buying the tickets for the group.
The heartwarming story reveals how the women, even though facing financial challenges, worked together and supported each other to purchase the ticket.
Two of the members, Kuttimalu and Cherumannil Baby teamed up to contribute INR12.5 each, while the remaining nine women each pitched in INR25 for their share.
To their delight, the women found out they had won the bumper prize a day before the draw, thanks to one of the members’ husbands checking the results. This was the fourth time the group had purchased a lottery ticket, and they affectionately refer to themselves as “fourth time lucky.”
For the fortunate winners, the prize money brings newfound hope and opportunity. One member, Baby, lost her home in the devastating floods of 2018, but now plans to build a new house and clear her debts. K Bindu, another winner, aims to finish building her home, which her late husband had left unfinished due to financial struggles.
With heavy rains causing concerns for the future, Lakshmi and her husband, both construction workers, now have the means to invest in their daughter’s education. The prize, after deducting necessary taxes, amounts to INR63 million, and the remaining share will be distributed among the women.
Even after their life-changing win, the women remain dedicated to their work as sanitation workers. Alongside collecting waste, they contribute to constructing public toilets and waste disposal facilities. According to KT Balabhaskaran, director of the Suchitwa Mission, the organization overseeing these efforts across the state, the women have decided to stay true to their collective and continue their impactful work.