Life has a way of presenting opportunities when you least expect them to come before you. One needs to be alert and determined enough to make the most of these chances. 29-year-old Manjushree Roy Chowdhury who stays in Haldia, West Bengal, was a housewife taking care of her husband and mother-in-law when she decided to grab the chance to change her life.
21 year old Suresh from Warangal is the youngest member in a family that comprises his parents, 2 older brothers and sister-in-law. His father and eldest brother are daily wage workers while his second brother is a mobiliser. Before Suresh started earning, the total family income was around Rs. 6500. When he quit his B. Pharmacy midway due to lack of interest, his brother informed him about the EyeMitra program taking place at Warangal.
Vennala is a 19 year old girl from Warangal who has completed her education till 10th standard. She was unable to finish her HSC due to the sheer distance between her government school and house. She lives with her parents, brother and sister, both siblings being older than her. Her father is a farmer and the family was below poverty line before Vennala began to earn. She found out about the EyeMitra program through a LabourNet mobilizer who played an important role in convincing her parents to allow her to join the program.
Life gives second chances to those who believe in themselves, and 30-year-old Rekha from Bangalore is a prime example of this saying. Rekha is a qualified B.Com graduate who is married to Sashidhar, a trainee at Idea Telecommunications, and is the mother of two sons. On being asked why she was unemployed even though she was a commerce graduate, she states openly, “My family was not supportive enough.”
Nandhapriya is a housewife with two children, daughter aged 11 and a son aged 9 years. Her husband is into agriculture. They have been leading a fairly comfortable life in Hosur, a small industrial town near Bangalore. But, Nandhapriya has, over the years, developed a liking for learning new skills.
While dreams can be many, realistic goals come only through knowledge and experience. Anita Maske, a 10th qualified housewife hailing from Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, was always passionate about makeup and beauty treatments. Married for 12 years, her husband was capable enough to take care of her small family. However, her aspirations pushed her to dream of something bigger for herself, especially in the beauty sector.
Minu belongs to a low income household. Her family comprises of five members, including her, namely, husband, mother-in-law and two young daughters. Her husband is a 10th pass D-group worker in the agriculture sector. Her mother-in-law is illiterate and unemployed.
Some say life is like a bicycle, and one must keep moving else there is the risk of falling off. It appears that 33-year old Raveendra Shetty, hailing from Bengaluru’s KR Puram, would subscribe to this philosophy. After completing his 10th standard, Raveendra enrolled in an ITI course and worked as an electrical maintenance person. He chose to join the three-month long Electrical Course as it was a certification program and he believed that a certificate held great value in his field of work.
As long as a person keeps moving forward, he or she will enjoy the fruits of labour. 21-year old Subarna Mondal had to drop out of formal education after clearing her twelfth standard examinations due to her family’s financial trouble. She is one of four children in an eight-member household including her parents and grandparents. She took to making the most of her education by teaching some students in her neighborhood. One of Subarna’s friends who had enrolled for HUL Prabhat and LabourNet Beauty & Hair Care course in Haldia told her about the program. Subarna decided to join this course as it “seemed interesting and more lucrative” than her current work.
22 year old Prabhakaran says, matter-of-factly, “I was poor in studies and my family was poor in finances, although my father owns a goods vehicle that generates some income. What choice did I have other than to look for work?” As fate would have it, family’s economic conditions kept Prabhakaran awake at nights while he was pursuing his degree. Needless to say, he failed in a few subjects and decided not to sit for arrear exam. Instead, he began to look for a job that would help support the family.
Mahalakshmi had just reached the threshold of adolescence when her father, a daily wage mason, fell ill and got bedridden due to excessive alcohol consumption. Her two younger sisters were mere kids at the time. Their mother, a housekeeper employed in SIPCOT IT Park in Chennai, was always at the helm of family affairs due to her husband’s irresponsible ways. “My mother had to take care of the family as well as the financials ever since I was a little girl. Father has always lamented that mother could not give him a son, so he started drifting away”, says Mahalakshmi.
Rajalakshmy is a 34-year-old housewife from Chinamanikund, Pondicherry. Her husband, S Umapati, works as a shoe merchant in Pondicherry. Occasionally, Rajalakshmy used to assist her husband in managing the shoe business. She lives in a joint family and there is a total of 10 people in the household. The average monthly income of the household is approximately INR 40000.
“For a long time I have had problem with my eyesight, but my family didn’t pay heed as they were too busy trying to make ends meet and put food on our plate,” says Mittagadapala nonchalantly. But that didn’t deter her from pursuing her dreams of standing on her feet and earning a decent livelihood. Mittagadapala Joshi is 24 years old hailing from a small town called Janagaon in Telangana. Joshi’s parents were daily wage earners and the family income was only INR 5000 every month.
Sometimes you are dealt a card which completely changes how you play the game of cards that is life. G Bharathi is a 24-year-old woman who experienced this first hand. She is a class ten pass out who had to abandon the degree she was pursuing after marriage from an open university as she became pregnant. Bharathi is married to Jai Anna who is a tailor having a monthly income of INR 12,000.
“What can I say? It is nothing short of a miracle! Truly a blessing,” begins Archana Paradkar excitedly. For a 37-year old housewife who could only complete her formal education till 12th standard, it was indeed quite a journey!
Magesh belongs to an agricultural family in Injambakkam, Chennai, where his father is a full-time farmer. He completed SSLC and could not pursue studies further as the financial condition of his family was pitiable and he had to start working at a very young age to support his family. Every day he used to go to the paddy field with his father and help him with work. The agricultural yield was not enough to support the entire family of five members. His two sisters were younger than him and were studying in school. He never wanted them to leave school like he did.
Manohar Sawant could not complete his studies after 12th standard due to lack of interest. He wanted to start working and support his family. His parents were working in a nearby factory and the monthly income was close to Rs.15000.
26 year old Nitu Moni Borah Saikia is a homemaker and stays with her family in Prabhat Tea Estate in Doomdooma, Assam. Her small family comprises of her husband and their only daughter. Her husband works in the tea garden as an assistant and makes around Rs.10000 in a month.
Reshma H Yashavantrao is 24 year old girl living in Navi Mumbai. At an age where parents of young girls knit dreams of marriage and courtship for their daughters, Reshma as well as her parents and she had a different plan and dream. “I always wanted to stand on my own feet and make my parents proud,” says Reshma.
Thiyagarajan, son of Namachivay, resides in Chinamanikund, Pondicherry. The 35 year old hair stylist could not complete his formal education due to dire circumstances in his family. “I could study only till eighth standard after which I had to drop out because of family issues. Also, the standard of education was poor at school and I was losing interest with each passing year”. Thiyagarajan joined a local hair styling saloon and slowly learned the basics of the hair grooming trade. He is only earning member in the family and has to support his five-member family with a meagre earnings of INR 3500.
Elumalai is a resident of Chinamanikund, Pondicherry. The twenty six year old had to drop out of school in the early years due to many difficulties faced by the family. Owing to the lack of any formal education, Elumalai had to take up odd jobs. Somehow, he was able to find a job as a barber and started learning the basic skills sets for this profession. He lives with his father, Kanayan, his mother and his brother who is currently studying. Elumalai was the only earning member of the family and he was able to generate a monthly income of INR 8000.