“I know now that even I can now become someone’s support, most importantly my own. I have changed in the way I talk, how I dress, and have become confident.”
Not having been allowed to study by her father, Meenu thought that her future, along with her other three sisters, would be to work within the four walls of the house. Thanks to the insistence of her mother she was able to study a little, but she was married early and had a daughter. Her husband was abusive and mistreated her. Her in laws would harass her and restrict her from doing anything she wanted to.
She finally left them and moved to her parents’ house. She wanted to work and stand on her own feet. One day, she learnt from a neighbor that her friend was a driver. She was very taken with the idea that a woman can be a professional chauffeur and decided to learn driving and join Azad Foundation.
When her in laws back in the village heard about what she was doing, they opposed it and her husband threatened to divorce her. She said, “you do whatever you want, but I will not leave this!”
Slowly she completely stopped visiting their house and with the support of her younger brother she continued her training. She has learnt to drive, speak and understand basic English and mannerisms to help her interact with clients. One of her favourite modules was Sexual and reproductive health, as it helped her learn about her body and rights and gave her strength not to let herself be exploited.
She says: “I love self-defense because it teaches us to protect ourselves. I always wanted to learn karate and I want my daughter to learn this as well! I know now that even I can now become someone’s support, most importantly my own. I have changed in the way I talk, how I dress, and have become confident.”
Whatever she learns at Azad, she teaches her nieces and the rest of the family. She also wants to teach them driving once she masters it. And once she starts earning well, she wants to send her daughter to study and give her everything she has never had, so her daughter will never have to face what she did.