“I thought empowerment was only in the books. A job really empowers you,” said Kavitha (name changed), a 35-year-old woman. Kavitha works for one of Samasource’s service partners based in the village of Rukka in the state of Jharkhand, India. She lives with her husband and two children 14 miles away from Rukka. A year ago, Kavitha was a housewife and had low self-esteem. She could neither contribute financially, nor help children with their studies. She always wanted to learn and seek gainful employment, but never felt she could.
For Kavitha, things have changed for the better during the last year. She underwent training and, according to her, learnt the two most valuable skills – English and Computers. Having taken up the responsibility to improve her family’s condition, she now works on digital projects for international clients, providing high-quality, cost-effective IT services and delivering projects on time. In the last year, her family’s household income has increased by more than 60 percent. She has a say in making purchasing decisions – where should we buy the groceries? Or clothes for children? She is respected more in her extended family and in the community. Her father-in-law takes care of her children when she is at work. Besides her smile, these changes have contributed to her confidence, dignity and self-respect. Today she is confident of her abilities and of leading a better life.
The past year had its own challenges. The training period was very hard – classes, assignments and study on top of taking care of her family. Kavitha persevered and did well in her training and secured a job. She has less time now for social interactions; she cannot watch TV or cook a special meal for her children spontaneously. After an eventful year, what does Kavitha cherish most? “Working on the computer” and being able to help her 6- and 10-year-old children with their studies.
On this field trip, I have met employees who have astonished me with their determination to do well. Earlier, I met an employee who commutes 9 hours a day to work! What we have in Rukka is an oasis of hope and an ecosystem supported by it. Can we turn this oasis into a stream? Maybe into a river of life? To answer this, I would like to borrow Arundhati Roy’s words: “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”