- By Vartika Bhatewara
This is the story of Indrala Devi. She comes from a small village where she used to live with her family of seven. Their main source of income was farming. Indrala used to love going to school and was a reasonably bright student. Although they lived in poverty, she was happy to be with her family and to be able to study. However, Indrala’s life took a turn for the worse when her father passed away suddenly. Her brother took control of their land and decided to leave the family to fend for themselves. When their only source of income was taken away from them, Indrala’s mother had to find work to feed her family. She asked Indrala to stay at home in order to take care of her siblings so that she could earn a salary of Rs.1500 a month. But Indrala was very keen on studying and she managed to convince her mother to let her continue her education. Indrala had to cycle for 25 kms everyday in order to reach her school but she didn’t let that deter her. However, her luck ran out after her 10th standard exams. She was forced to find work in order to sustain her family.
It was at this time that a mobiliser from Pratham reached her village to generate awareness about various vocational training options available to youth. Indrala got interested in the hospitality program. However, the odds were against Indrala once again as the hospitality centre was 500 kms away from her village and no girl had ever left the village without getting married. In addition to this, the course was not free. But life had taught Indrala a lesson that we all learn only in schools; where there is a will, there is a way. She learnt about Pratham’s education loans and convinced her mother to let her go and give her a decent shot at earning a sustainable livelihood.
The story of her courage doesn’t end here. Indrala had decided to work in the field of hospitality but she had never even heard of shampoos or the other basics of grooming. In spite of all the disadvantages that she brought with herself, she amazed her teachers by her sheer hard work. At the end of three months she got placed at a five star hotel for which she had to travel even farther away from her village, but unsurprisingly this did not deter her either. Beating all odds, Indrala Devi has today paid off all her loan installments and can proudly say that her family income has increased to Rs.6000 a month. Although this number doesn’t amount to a lot, Indrala Devi lives with the knowledge and belief that her life will only get better from here.