I relate so strongly to your premise, Nida.
20 years ago, as a tourist, I visited a rural community in the so-called Developing World. I ended up by staying for ten years. No lie. :-)
I stayed because I discovered that it was I (a white western woman) who was impoverished, not they. Without paved roads, electricity, or running water, the women of this community were happy in their lives, in their belonging together, while I was unhappy and ‘independent’ and alone. I stayed to learn happiness and community and belonging, and I did.
Then a road was ‘improved’ and the NGOs and missionaries and politicians came, and things changed. My village got running water, then electricity, and finally mobile telephones and ‘the vote’, and the people were delighted with these things.
And the community fractured, into this-religion and that-one, into Left and Right, into right and wrong, and into haves and have-nots. The young people took their mobiles and left, and the community died, and I left: there was nothing there to hold me, to belong to, the community was gone, and the happiness with it. Now, for the first time, there was real poverty. I felt like it was somehow my fault.
Nida, thank you for writing, for appreciating rural women.