All of 23, Sarhaka Lakiang is a budding entrepreneur who runs a tailoring unit from her home in Jowai in Meghalaya. Her transformational journey from an ordinary girl to an enterprising woman is an inspirational story for many women from marginalized communities.
Born into a poor family of 7 children, Sarhaka had to discontinue her education to look after her younger siblings as her mother earned a living by working as a domestic help. A creative mind that she was, Sarhaka would redesign old un-used clothes at home. This interest of hers brought her in contact with the iLEAD Shillong center staff who encouraged her to undergo training in “Fashion Designing and Tailoring” course. Talented that she was, Sarhaka didn’t have to look back after completing her training. She got immediately placed in a boutique in Shillong from where she learnt the nuances of tailoring business. While Sarhaka was happy with the way her life was shaping up, deep down, she strongly aspired to start her own tailoring unit and help her younger siblings attain quality education and life.
A casual follow-up visit by the iLEAD staff was a turning point in Sarhaka’s life. When she expressed her aspiration to start her unit, the staff informed her about the entrepreneurship programme offered by Aide et Action & Tata Trusts. Soon, she submitted a business plan and applied for an interest free loan of INR 42000 in 2016. After receiving the loan, she started a tailoring unit based from her home, where she takes orders from the customers in her neighbourhood. She earns Rs 4000 per month.
Sarhaka says “I had to drop out of school because my family could not afford it but with me and my mother now earning, I hope to ensure that atleast my younger siblings can continue their education. I want to grow my business, I hope someday I will be able to set up my own boutique.”
Riwanda Lyngdoh’s life has changed a lot during the past 3 years that she has been associated with AEA. In her hometown of Umsning (30 kms from capital Shillong), she can be seen running her Beauty Parlour. She also uses her Parlour as a retail outlet for various Beauty products. Riwanda is one of 50 iLEAD trained alumni who are being supported with financial assistance under the Tata Trust supported MEPP project of AEA.
A young single mother of 3 children, Riwanda’s association with AEA, dates back to 2014, when she had joined the iLEAD Shillong centre as a trainee in the Beautician course. She came to the iLEAD centre to gain employable skills through which she could provide for her children’s education. After completing her training, she worked a free lance Beautician. After working for a few months, and with her earnings, she started a small Beauty Parlour in her locality which started doing well. Slowly she started looking for financial support to expand her business.
It was during this time, that her Beautician trainer from iLEAD had informed her about the interest free loans that were being provided to entrepreneurs to upscale and start their enterprises. Riwanda applied for a loan of Rs 100,000 was one of the 10 existing beneficiaries who received financial assistance for starting & upscaling their business. With the loan money, she purchased additional supplies and products for her Parlour. Her parlour continues to be in operation and her average monthly earnings are Rs 15000.
Kasturi Pariyar resides in Paiyupata, Ward 6 of Baglung, Nepal. Following her mother’s death, Kasturi’s father remarried and migrated to India leaving her at her aunt’s place. Her mother’s death resulted in significant psychological trauma on Kasturi who was in constant search of her mother who was never to be found. Her days as an eight-year-old child were spent alone at home, as her aunt was a daily wage worker.
In school, Kasturi was an isolated individual. She was stubborn and withdrawn, uninterested in her studies, and disobeyed her teachers. She rarely interacted with her peers, often creating conflict whenever she did. Kasturi was one day discovered by Aasaman Nepal social mobilizer, Sarita. She instantly did all she could to gather as much information as she could about Kasturi’s story, forming a bond with her and keeping her under continuous assessment. Kasturi was encouraged by the children’s club to become interactive. Through a variety of activities and discussions held surrounding issues such as hygiene and education, she gradually became increasingly active and well-adjusted. Kasturi’s aunt also became committed to supporting her personal development.
Life can change when efforts are made. This was aptly reflected in Kasturi’s positive behavior today. She is now very playful with her friends, constantly cheerful and often takes the lead in group activities. She exercises great discipline on a daily basis and has become a committed student. Most importantly, she now serves as a role model to others. Her aunt thanks Aasaman Nepal for working patiently with Kasturi and bringing a smile on her tiny lips and giving her such a fascinating childhood.
Srikarshika’s mother tried to abort on knowing that she was carrying a girl child. Though Srikarshika survived the abortion attempt, she was born as a deformed child whose woes didn’t end there. Her parents were too callous and never bothered to seek specialised treatment as suggested by the doctors.
After witnessing the negligent attitude of her parents, Srikarshika’s grandmother came forward to take care of her. Since then she has been attending to the child’s needs. Srikarshika was visually impaired due to her congenital condition. She underwent an operation in her limb at the age of 3 months. At the age of 3, Srikarshika underwent cardiology related surgery. Being a single woman, Srikarshika’s grandmother, Nagamani has been depending on her younger daughter’s income to treat the child. The medical expenses for the child has pushed the family into debts.
The Enlight project in Hyderabad has identified Srikarshika in 2017 and as a priority mobilized SADERAM certificate which is mandatory to avail government pensions for specially challenged children. Alongside, the team motivated Nagamani to take Srikarshika to therapeutic camps that were being organized in the project.
She was even taken to eye hospital for treatment and was under medication to recover the eye sight. Presently she is able to see short distance objects (low vision) and in a few years, her sight would be restored to normal.
Due to the multiple challenges and medical complications, Srikarshika has never been to school. With the medication and therapautic support, the team hopes that Srikarshika’s condition will improve for the better. The project is planning to enroll her in school in next academic year. Inspite of multiple complexities, Srikarshika is always on high spirits. She aspires to study and become a good human being.
The CCLC facilitator also observed that Aradhana was good at fine arts. So when a local NGO organized a free summer camp for children in their locality, she recommended Aradhana to enroll in dance and drawing courses. The parents of Aradhana were immensely surprised when they came to know that she has won first prizes in both dance and drawing competitions.
“We were not aware about our child’s potential and talent but because of ‘didi’, we have realized that if my girl gets a proper platform she can prove herself. I will ensure that my girl would study further as per her desire” says Aradhana’s father Munna Lal.
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