Ms. Neelavathi, a 39 – year old woman with LD, lives in the rural setting of Dindigul District; Tamilnadu expressed the path she came through. She is so thankful for her parents, like-minded people, several NGO’s, Trust and especially SFRAWD who constantly supported her in all her effort and that is the reason she became a successful woman entrepreneur.
Ms. Neelavathi got Napkin training support from SFRAWD, later she applied that knowledge into practice. Now, she has a separate unit at Nilakottai- Dindigul District for manufacturing (Reusable Napkin) safe pads. She supports several disabled women in providing employment opportunity. She produces cloth napkins and sells those napkins in the market as a best quality product. Through the support of Bangalore based Trust – Stonesoup she has got an opportunity to provide training for napkin making in various Districts & States, especially to the SHG groups in Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Telungana, Jharkand and Tamils live in Sri Lanka.
Ms. Jayakodi, a 35 – year old woman with LD (80%) is an inspiration person to many people living with disabilities. She is a single woman running a separate unit for tailoring and producing more entrepreneurs for the disable society to sow the seeds of self-confidence and resilience power to those who feel abandoned and isolated. She came across many struggles & challenges to reach this position. She is a trainer, leader, voice for voiceless and a supporter for those who feel lowered or hopeless.
She learnt tailoring and Aari work from SFRAWD resource centre located at Cuddalore district to become a tailor to make money for her living. But after the completion of training, her vision has changed completely into becoming an entrepreneur, as she wasn’t happy working in another organization to meet her needs. Also, she felt the environment wasn’t disability friendly and empathy was missing in all the sectors she worked. Therefore, she started making blouses, salwar kameez, skirt & blouse at the SFRAWD resource centre for her livelihood. Later, she started to teach many young woman with disabilities- all the skills she acquired from practical classes from various resources to build self-confidence, hope and spirit in the lives of destitute girl children and women with disabilities. She knows the difficulty in teaching disabled woman with tailoring skills; therefore she takes extra effort and care to teach to bring out more women entrepreneurs in the society.
Ms. Anandi, a 39 – year old woman with LD (80%), lives in the rural setting of Cuddalore District; Tamilnadu lives with her mother and brothers, unmarried due to the taboo/myth associated with disability. Her dream is to become a successful entrepreneur and to bring out many disabled women as entrepreneurs in the society to break all the disability taboos.
She has approached SFRAWD to support her on tailoring training years ago and continuously followed up to get a proper training for her livelihood opportunities. Later, knowing her self-determination and discipline, we provided a training support through one of our field volunteer at SFRAWD resource centre located at Cuddalore district. She has also gained many experience on various trainings like Veni flower making, Artificial jewelry making, Napkin Making, etc, After the successful completion of basic tailoring program, for a second time she approached SFRAWD for the Sewing machine support, and we provided sewing machine according to her requirement. With that machine, she now became a great inspiration for many disabled women like her, motivating others to learn the skills she acquired.
She runs a small unit at Cuddalore districts for making School Uniforms, also stitches blouses according to the latest trends with the YouTube – Social Media support, also provides free training for many young adolescent girls and disabled women.
Ms. Sankaragomathi, a 57- year old woman is a living example of women empowerment. Ms Sankaragomathi is a mother of six children, of which three are sons, and three are daughters. Two of her children (1 son (20 years old), and 1(22 years old) daughter are also children with Intellectual disability. Her children are getting therapy from NIEPMD. They have been asked to come regularly, but due to financial restraints she is able to give once a week therapy for them. “Have to walk long for the bus stop, and it is hard with these children. Therefore I had to take an auto which is expensive”, she says.
She has been involved in self-employment for the past 44 years. As a child, Ms Sankaragomathi and her sisters were with the sisters (nuns) where they learnt different skills such as candle making and rice card making or hay card making (in tamil vaikol vazhthu attai). She did not have education after her 5th grade due to her family situation. However she did not restrict her from empowering herself. She learnt different skill which is still giving her hands with her business. She has been separated from her husband for the past 19 years, and has been raising her children as a single mother. One of her son is being raised by her in-laws since his childhood. She raised the other five children, of which one of the sons is a doctor now. He studied from Salem Government College, and was trained from Sanatorium hospital for 3 years, and now currently he is in a 4 year contract with a hospital at Thiruvananthapuram. One of her daughter has also finished Naturopathy. She was training students at college before COVID-19, but after that she lost that Contract. Therefore, she is working as a Cashier in a company. Her other daughter tried for NEET for the past two years, but lost it in 1 and 2 marks in both of her attempts. Therefore, due to financial constraints she now takes care of her siblings, and helps her mother with her business. ‘She is also very skilled in making herbal pads and stitched well. She is a very skilled person’, said her mother referring to her daughter.
Ms Sankaragomathi did not have it all easy. Earlier she used to do housekeeping for the night shifts for the emergency ward where she made Rs. 3000 per month. During that time, her elder daughter used to be the cashier at the same place, and goes for the day shift. This way Ms Sankaragomathi made sure her special children are taken care off. With all the skills she had learnt along the way she now has a registered enterprise named ‘Thiruchandur Murugan Enterprise’. It’s been Four years since she is doing the business with registration. However, she has been involved in this self-employment for years. Her business includes,
- Rice (hay) card making (Vaikol vazthu attai)
- Jute bag
- Plastic garlands
- Herbal napkins
- Phenoil and surf
- Silk thread earring
She also trains mothers of special children, and other women with disability with these skills. Currently she does not have a centre to train more people, as she also lives in a rental house. She is approaching legal authorities, and been requesting plea regarding a training centre. She also used to take classes in NIEPMD from 2013 to 2019. She is always involved with tailoring, and she happily shares her gratitude to SFRAWD for sponsoring her with Sewing machine, table and the entire kit. She makes up to Rs. 400 per day through her self-employment. Her aim is to provide jobs to the mothers of special children through getting linked with bulk orders. She is currently working towards her goal in empowering other mothers of special children by conveying the message that nothing can stop them and providing them the skills that could also empower them financially.
Ms Mala, a 43- year old woman with Locomotor disability. She is an inspiration to many women with disabilities. Ms Mala is a single woman and take cares of her mother (68). Her mother does housekeeping and support in whatever ways she can. She has one brother, who went separate after his marriage. Ms Mala is a proud women entrepreneur and runs a separate tailoring unit in the name of ‘Mercy tailoring’ and empowering other women like how she has empowered herself. She’s been running this tailoring centre since 2000. She has empowered her with various training which includes, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) Teacher training, free hand drawing, dress painting, tailoring, hand embroidery and aari work. She did not stop right there, but she wanted to take it forward by training other women with disability. She not only run her separate unit, but also spends her free time by training at a centre at Saidapet, and at SFRAWD centre. Earlier, she used to train women from her church. But it was stopped after the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected her income. At present, she makes up to Rs. 7000 from her ‘Mercy tailoring’ unit alone. Despite a hit in her income level due to the pandemic, that does not seem to stop her from empowering other women with disabilities.
Ms Renuka, 34-year-old women is a visually challenged person. She lives with her father, her husband, her sister who is also visually challenged and her sister’s son who is studying in 1st grade. Her sister’s husband is also a visually challenged person; however he has left her alone with their little child. Her sister is a train vendor from which she hardly makes Rs. 150 per day. Henceforth, Ms Renuka has an additional responsibility of taking care of her sister’s family as well. Ms Renuka is in a situation where she has to tend for two families altogether. Though she has finished her B.Ed, she did not get job opportunity due to her disability. However, this did not discourage her. Her husband is a person without disability, with whom she started running a bunk shop where they generated income from selling snacks and other items. “Everyone would come to my shop saying that I have a smiling face. Even though I take time to prepare the tea or coffee, they would wait for it patiently”, says Ms Renuka. Ms Renuka puts up a brave and smiling face and does whatever in her capacity to raise two families. Though the income from the bunk shop was not fully sufficient for them, but it was manageable. However, this bunk has been destroyed during last year floods, which led to damage in running their shop. Before the damage, she was making around Rs. 1000 per day. But, at present, the shop isn’t functioning, and their income has completely stopped. This again did not stop her. She has approached SFRAWD to provide a new Aavin Bunk shop as per the order from our Honorable Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu since her old bunk is in an unrepairable condition. She also made sure to get EB connection for her bunk premises as a process of getting ready when she gets the Aavin Bunk Shop. She keeps pushing herself despite her challenges and finds ways to be financially independent in providing for her family.
Ms Ruth Rajeswari, a 37- year old woman with Locomotor disability is a multitalented person. Both Ms Ruth and her husband are people with disability. She has a daughter (12) and a son (9). Both are studying in a private school. Despite her disability, she has empowered herself and has started a new commercial tailoring unit. It’s been 9 months since she had set up this shop. Her husband does typing work from which he makes Rs. 12,000 per month. From her tailoring unit, she makes around Rs. 7000 – Rs. 8000 per month. She is not only a successful women entrepreneur, but also an inspiring tennis player. Her husband is also a tennis player from whom she learnt this sport. She is proud to say that she is in rank 4 among the women with disability Tennis player in Tamil Nadu. She is been into sports for the past 4 years, and during the year 2018-2019 she was the runner up in the doubles match. Ms Ruth proves that women with disabilities can be all-rounder too.
Ms Thilagam, 44-year-old women is a mother of 3 children. Of which two of them are daughter, and one of them is son. Her elder daughter Ms Hemalatha (26), is a person with disability (Intellectual disability). Earlier she used to be a homemaker, while her husband was doing milk business. After that she worked in a special school for 11 years where she made Rs.4500 per month. During that time Ms Hemalatha was attending a special school near her home. Their income was not sufficient to raise 3 children. Moreover, Ms Hemalatha requires additional care and attention. Therefore, Ms Thilagam looked out for opportunity to set up a Aavin bunk to get a sustainable income. Successfully, Ms Thilagam and her husband started a bunk shop on 19.09.2020. They have been doing that business since then, from which they have making an amount of Rs.10,000 per month. Ms Thilagam’s younger daughter has finished her B.A, and now attending computer training at YWCA. Her son has been trained in wiring works and doing related works. At present, Ms Hemalatha is attending vocational training at Athreya Special School. The school fee is Rs. 1000 per month. Ms Thilagam has empowered her family by grabbing a self-employment opportunity, and has given good education to her children within her capacity.