Vennela 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. Herfather is a farmer and the family was below poverty line before Vennela 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. They were initially worried about the financial strain it would bring on the family and the distance between her house and the centre as the latter was in an urban area. However, looking at the nominal fee and realising the potential of such a course for Vennela’s future, they decided to let her give it a shot.
Vennela fell in love with the course as soon as she joined it. The content she had started to learn made her feel like a doctor-in-training. She started enjoying her practical classes the most as it provided exposure to what the actual job would be like. Upon completion of her training, she decided to open her own shop and received a loan of Rs. 50000 from her uncle. Vennela’s uncle was the only family member who had faith in her and her ability to run a business despite coming from a family, where being born a girl implied many limitations.
Making dreams a reality
With her uncle’s money, she opened her shop and began to earna modest income initially. As soon as she set up a shop, the first thing she did was to give her parents an eye check-up. Seeing her in her coat and using her instruments gave them a sense of pride as they started likening their daughter’s position to that of an actual optometrist. She wishes to use her income towards expanding her business, repaying her loan, as well as helping those in need.
However, being a woman in such a position in a patriarchal society is never easy. Vennela has faced plenty of brash talk from her male customers and one has even hit her when the delivery of his glasses was a day overdue. Despite such obstacles, Vennela states that she has become mature and is able to communicate with her customers quite effectively. Moreover, she feels more dignified and respected in her community overall as the only girl to have opened such a business in the village. She feels that she will also gain better marriage prospects due to her job.