Sector: Community Based Livelihood (Non Farm)
Sudesh thought she had everything, including the perfect married life. She was happy in the home of in-laws and took full responsibility for the daily chores. One day she noticed her husband was having a difficult time walking and asked him about his health. He ignored her questions and continued on with his work. Surprised by his reaction, Sudesh went to her in-laws and asked them if they knew what was wrong. They told her to keep her mouth shut and to never bother them again. Sudesh obediently listened to the requests of her in-laws and never brought up the topic again. However, in the back of her mind Sudesh constantly worried about her husband’s condition and could not understand why everyone was being so secretive.
This was just the beginning of a series of difficulties that Sudesh would encounter. Her in-laws started to mistreat her and verbally abuse her. Her brother in-law would curse and degrade her until she would break down into tears. Not knowing what to do, Sudesh turned to her husband and begged him to make the abuse stop. He once again ignored her pleas and told her to keep quiet. Sudesh felt alone and feared her new family. She continued to perform her duties and endured the mistreatment. However, one day Sudesh overheard her in-laws whispering in the next room. She stopped her chores and listened to what they were saying. She kept hearing her name but could not make out what else they were talking about. Finally, she realized that her husband and in-laws were planning her murder. Sudesh’s heart stopped and she secretly packed her bags and left her husband and his family.
With no money and only the few possessions she had, Sudesh went to her parent’s home. They were shocked by what had happened but told Sudesh to try and reconcile with her in-laws. But Sudesh’s in-laws never tried to contact her and soon she and her husband got a divorce.
Sudesh, unable to provide for herself, decided to start working. She joined CORD’s Community Based Rehabilitation sector and worked for four years. She enjoyed interacting with local villagers and had the strong inner desire to help others. Sudesh’s parents on the other hand were worried about their daughter living alone and providing for herself. Her brothers were insistent on Sudesh marrying as soon as possible because they did not want an unmarried sister bringing shame to their family name. They decided on her behalf to have her re-married to a man in Delhi. Within two days, her marriage was completed in court. Sudesh had no say in the situation and desperately wanted to continue her work at CORD. But her pleading was of no use and she was married off for the second time.
Like her first marriage any signs of a happy married life were short lived. Sudesh found out that her husband already had a wife and was involved in many other extra-marital relationships. Shocked and on the brink of suicide, Sudesh had lost all hope. She felt helpless and had no one to turn to this time. Her married life was once again full of lies and deceit and she could no longer bare the pain. Fortunately, a CORD worker who had found out about Sudesh’s condition reached out to her. At this point, Sudesh had no money and was living on the daily wages she earned doing miscellaneous tasks. The CORD worker encouraged her to get sewing training at the center. Sudesh agreed and knew this might be the only way to better her condition. She took her training very seriously and learned how to make salwar kameez (traditional Indian clothing for women) and bags. The training not only taught Sudesh how to sew but helped her gain back the confidence she had lost. She grew gradually and her skills were refined over several phases of training. Soon Sudesh started buying raw materials and making high quality bags and clothing. She opened a bank account and saved money so she could expand her business.
Today, Sudesh works at Guru Dhara, a Self Help Group store run by women. She takes orders and teaches young girls how to sew so that they can earn their livelihood. She is currently teaching in the villages of Ujjain Virta and Bodard Balla in the district of Kangra. Her goal is to help women become self sufficient so that no one will ever be in the helpless position she was once in. This once down trodden woman stands confidently before her class and helps them become authors of their own fate.