I used to be gloomy, tense and tolerated abuse from my husband. Now I feel free.
Archana has travelled a long way. She failed her first test drive to get a job as professional driver as she faced abuse from her husband the previous night. Now, she stands up to her husband. She earns more than her husband and decides how to spend the money. Her training, her job, the friendships she has developed through Azad makes her believe in herself. And to add spice to life… she hobnobs with the media and film stars at her job! For her…this is freedom from drudgery, violence, poverty and dependence.
Archanna, now 38, looks different, talks different and leads a different life ever since she has started working as Car Parking Valet in Medica Super Speciality Hospital. But the process of change started during Women on Wheels training at Azad Foundation. It took Archana several months to open up and admit she faced domestic violence. Today, Archana does not bat an eyelid as she says that the violence has gone down drastically.
She shares that she hit back at her husband one day, for the first time ever. Showing that she is not helpless anymore, Archana forced her husband to ‘behave himself’. “Earlier, when I left him unable to take the violence, he would never call me back. He knew that I had nowhere to go and will ultimately have to come back to him. Now when I walk out, he comes after me and apologises. He realizes that I am not alone anymore and that I am capable to take care of my myself and children and start life without him.”
For Archana, it is not only about the money she earns, but friendships and support network she has built through Azad that make all the difference. “Most women who are working as maids or in home based jobs are not able to rise their self-esteem or in the eyes of their family. All the training I have undertaken as part of Women on Wheels has given me a new exposure and knowledge which commands respect. People treat me differently. The fact that I am doing something different makes them wonder and muddle their preconceived views about what a woman can do. And they respect me because I work in a good place. People in my community and even in my family are very proud of me.”
Archana says that her job as valet gives her leisure and rest unlike the back-breaking work at home. “Earlier I worked all the time at home for which there was neither pay, nor recognition, nor respect. Moreover, I used to be gloomy, tense and tolerated abuse from my husband. Now I feel free. When I go to my job, I feel relaxed.”
Archana is happy the most about being able to spend for her children. Earlier she had to depend on her husband for everything and he would hardly provide for more than the basic subsistence. “Growing children, especially girls, have needs”, says Archana. Now she buys her children drawing books, nice clothes, text books that they need for school, gifts for festivals and feed them milk and fruits, essential for healthy growing bodies. Her husband would have not provided for all this. Her daughter wants to join a hostel and Archana hopes that once her salary increases, she will be able to fulfill her daughter’s dreams. Has she spent anything for herself? “Yes I have bought new clothes for myself and cosmetics. I need to be in a tip-top shape at my job, so I must invest in myself.”
Every day we meet many underprivileged women like Archana, who dream of liberating themselves from poverty, violence and the world of restrictions. Women who want to build a brighter future for themselves and their loved ones. They want to be able to do this themselves, but need your help. Donate now to liberate women.