- Erin Kim
Vijaya is currently enrolled in the beauty course at the PSTC (Pratham Skills Training Center) in Varni, Telangana. She shyly shares that she is 40 years old and that she is too old for the course. She wishes that the Pratham center existed when she was younger. I tell her I respect her for her courage in taking up the challenge of starting something new at her point in life. A big smile spreads across her face and she replies, “Thank you.”
Like many other women in the room, she stopped her studies after completing 10th grade, got married and became a housewife. She would have liked to study more and become a teacher. 15 years ago, she worked in the tailoring industry but had to stop due to health issues. With her daughter studying in Hyderabad and husband often away for work as a driver, she found herself becoming depressed with a lot of time alone and little to do.
That is why she signed up right away for the first batch of the beauty program when she heard that a Pratham center was opening in Varni. Unfortunately she had to join a later batch because she had to take care of her father who suddenly had had an accident. When she told her husband about the beauty course, he said, “Do what you want, but make sure you put what you learn into use.”
Vijaya’s favorite aspect of the course is that it is taught in a friendly, approachable manner. She appreciates the Pratham center because it gives the women in Varni livelihood and a chance to spend their time in a productive manner rather than sitting around and gossiping. Vijaya hopes to open her own business in beauty after the completion of her training.