Fate abandoned her, courage did not - Vidya Devi

Vidya tending to her goats

Thirty nine years old Vidya Devi was born almost blind. She has very low partial vision, with the benefit of which she accompanies her widowed mother seeking a manual labourer's job everyday in the fields adjacent to her village. It's uncertain, at best, often no luck at a daily wage employment, at others, getting employed but not getting paid in time. Despondency had overtaken mother and daughter.

Seventeen years ago Vidya (which realistically means wisdom, which Vidya has displayed) was married off to a sighted person. Within a year, he started misbehaving with her even accusing her of infidelity. Neighbours suggested that he wanted dowry (an abhorrent custom where the bride's parents pay a 'wedding amount' to the groom's family) and thus wanted to quietly remarry for money, probably, which he did, moving to a distant big town Bhopal. Vidya returned home. A heart-broken father soon died of a cardiac arrest and the last 16 years mom and daughter have been living together, each other's support in penury and grief.

Vidya has two brothers, both married, who stay with their families in their own homes. Thus, only Vidya and her mother stay together for the last 16 odd years. Years spent in penury and financial misery. Making a pittance as daily wage labourers, mother and daughter carried on their unhappy existence.

When our AICB team reached their residence, we discovered they were out to earn their living. We therefore returned at an appropriate time and spoke to Vidya. As with most Indian daughters, she requested us to speak to her mother, which we did. We had a hostile reaction, filled with sceptism laced with suspicions about our bona fides. As this is quite the norm, we were unfazed and met her objections and uncertainties by quoting success stories from neighbouring villages, some of whom she had a passing acquaintance with. She finally agreed to have her daughter undergo the training that we proposed and offer to our clients.

She was a hesitant but willing learner. Her self confidence started growing and she started blossoming. She would eagerly await her trainer, our field worker and would have a list of queries ready every day. The milestones of her evolving into a self confident person were: recognizing currency, threading a needle and lighting the stove to prepare food, which she quickly learnt. Meanwhile, our team ensured her obtaining her UDID and relevant documents, which entitles her to a disability Pension. By now she started sharing her dreams…of owning some goats.

She was selected by the Grants Committee and given the seed money to buy three goats which she now tends to independently. She also trained herself by volunteering to look after her neighbour's goats! She now owns three goats. "I want to sell their babies and make enough money to buy a buffalo and make more money by selling milk." The positive aspect of her personality is that through it all she remained cheerful and interacted positively with her neighbours. Her determination and inner wisdom has ensured that she walk the difficult path from despondency to success, well!