A single mother with no financial means, Laxmi who belongs to Bhilwara, saw her life come to a near standstill...then she accidentally met Manju...
Laxmi Kumari got married at 22 years. For the first couple of months, her in-laws treated her well, but the birth of her daughter changed everything. She was subjected to incessant domestic violence. Within the next couple of months, she was diagnosed with a severe medical condition and was sent back to her parents' house. It was like going out of the frying pan into the fire. A single mother with no financial means, Laxmi's life came to a near standstill. At this time, she accidentally met Manju Dhobi, a Community Motivator of the Manzil team.
Laxmi lives in Mandal village, Bhilwara. Post marriage, while Laxmi had a chance to work and prepare for competitive exams, her husband didn't allow her. With barely any skills or tangible qualifications, Laxmi managed to find a Hindi teacher near her parental home. However, a salary of INR 4000 was a pittance. With a mother aged sixty years, a three-year-old daughter, an unmarried sister, and a brother who works as a mason, her economic strain grew manifold. Laxmi's chance encounter with Manju was life changing. She overhead Manju talk to a girl about Manzil, its mission to provide skill-based employment to girls from marginalized families, and the gamut of courses they can enroll in. One of them was EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) course. Her keen interest in nursing and the indefatigable spirit to serve others pulled her to this course.
Laxmi and her sister started pursuing the EMT course offered by Rajasthan Skill and Livelihoods Development Corporation in Bhilwara. When the lockdown was imposed, the skill development centre provided her with an employment opportunity as a nursing assistant at the Brijesh Banger Memorial Hospital's Emergency Cell in Bhilwara.
"There was no better time than the COVID-19 pandemic to jump into action. I thought of how fulfilling the feeling would be if my small effort saved someone's life", recalled Laxmi.
This opportunity allowed Laxmi to earn and made her an integral member of the healthcare system during the COVID-19 pandemic. She worked ten days a month in three different shifts. Her responsibilities included handling traumatized patients and providing immediate care and treatment. While her salary of 5000 per month did not leave her with much to save, she is now more confident about herself. Laxmi's mother takes care of her four-year-old daughter and is happy to see her daughter stand on her feet.
On completing the course, the Manzil team provided her an opportunity to work as a General Duty Assistant in Ahmedabad. Shifting to a different city, leaving her hometown and daughter with her mother were a great leap of faith for Laxmi. The newfound freedom of mobility, rigour, and independence marks a new phase in her life. Laxmi opined that all girls and women must develop a clear and evolving understanding of themselves in the world. This is possible when they have a job; it builds a sense of personal worth and agency. She advocates that a girl should get married once she completes her studies and has a job.
"Even if the girl's husband deserts her, she will have a source of income to fall back on", says Laxmi as she signs off.
Manju Dhobi (Community Motivator, Manzi, Bhilwara); Debamitra Bhattacharya (Social Behaviour Change Communication Specialist with Manzil) and Sreejita Dey (Manager, IPE Global)
About IPE Global
IPE Global is an international development consulting company providing expert technical assistance and solutions for equitable development and sustainable growth in developing countries. The company, with national and international presence has worked across more than 1000 projects in over 100 countries. Their workforce of more than 1100 people is assisted by over 1000 empaneled consultants.