Thrive in adversity and rebuild your life | Bangalore News

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Tears stream down her cheeks as Reena (name changed) recalls the hardships she endured during her life with an abusive, alcoholic husband. Reena, who had finished college and worked as a lecturer for a year, quit her job to care for three children and take care of other household responsibilities. But, when the violence became intolerable, she decided to leave him to live with her mother and file a complaint. “It’s never easy, but leaving an abusive husband is often the first step to a normal life,” she says.
Now, when she looks back, she realizes that financial independence is of the utmost importance, especially for married women. After returning to her mother, she continued to be distraught and it took several counseling sessions to get her to come to terms with the situation.
Subsequently, she enrolled in a basic computer training program at Rehabilitative Assistance for People in Distress (Rapid) where she met several women facing similar challenges. Her hope of landing a job after completing the course was, however, dashed by the pandemic outbreak. She got through the tough times thanks to her resilience and the support of Rapid.
Flash forward, Reena now teaches English to senior high school students at a public school.
Vishalakshi Uppar’s mother had moved from Andhra Pradesh to Dharwad with her three other children in search of employment after splitting from her alcoholic husband. Although academically gifted, Vishalakshi’s education had come to a halt after class 5 amid displacement, abuse, and financial strain. The 16-year-old dropout started working in a clothing store as a saleswoman. Although the salary was not good, it was necessary to keep the family afloat. “When I started looking for a better job, I came across Rapid’s sewing training program, but the decision turned out to be a turning point in my life,” she says.
“I had already given up on my dream of studying further when I started taking odd jobs. But when I went to Rapid, they encouraged me to take the class 10 exam as a private candidate,” she says.
Although her family was very supportive, she was not convinced because she had previously studied in a Telugu school and to sit for the exam she had to learn Kannada, Hindi and all other subjects from from zero.
“Amazingly, I managed to do it with the help of volunteers. I went from learning to write the Kannada alphabet to writing an entire essay in Kannada in six months. I gave class 10 exams in 2019, I passed them on the first try, I finished PU,” she says.
Vishalakshi, now 20, is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in sociology and economics at a government college in Dharwad. While her education costs are paid for by Rapid, she works in a city pharmacy to support her family.
Naziya Shaikh’s story is no different. Widowed at 21, the single mother lived with her in-laws for six years. She enrolled in a sewing program at Rapid in 2015 and now trains other women in sewing, conducts outreach programs in the city’s slums. She rose to the position of coordinator of ‘Vinyasa’ – Rapid’s crafting unit. She now lives with her parents and daughter.
Rapid is a non-profit organization based in Dharwad that focuses on providing social and economic opportunities for women through a comprehensive program including counselling, vocational skills development and employment.
Since its inception in June 2001, Rapid has worked with more than 4,200 women, according to Malavika Kadakol, CEO of Rapid. Beneficiaries are mostly in the 18-45 age bracket – each with an average of two children and aging parents – with no source of income or pension, as part of its Smile for Tomorrow program and unit of craftsmanship. Most of these women are unskilled workers with only five to nine years of schooling. The craft unit established in 2009 produces a range of products with a particular focus on preserving local art forms and as a result a significant part of the unit creates bags, folders, cushion covers and gift items in Khana fabric, and kurtis and sarees with Kasuti Motifs.
Rapid also works with girls between the ages of 15 and 23 through its Payana program which makes education accessible to daughters of single mothers.
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