“Single isn’t a status, but describes a person who is strong enough to live life without depending on others”
As I drove down the mountains in Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, watching the sunrise, I wondered what the day had in store for me. I was on my way to Tirupur to interview women from the garment factories, who had been trained as part of the worker well-being programmes of Swasti. The women were eager to talk to me about their lives including their childhood, marriage, social problems and children — all they needed was someone to lend a ear.
All women I spoke to were victims of unfortunate occurrences in the past. Sheela (name changed) was a single woman whose husband had deserted her for another woman. Life skills training changed her perspective about life and instilled confidence in her to live independently with dignity, and share the lessons with her daughters. Now, Sheela encourages them to learn martial arts and counsels neighbouring women. She also refers them to services where they can seek help, based on what she learnt from the training.
Another woman, Madhu (name changed) was married to an abusive man, who poked her on their wedding night till she bled for not wearing a saree like brides. Another day, he dragged her by her hair till the end of the street as her neighbours watched. Unable to bear the violence, Madhu ran away to her mother’s village that night with her baby.
The women cried as they spoke, let their emotions flow, and stories of strength and courage emerged.
Life skills training had helped them in many ways — they learnt to manage their finances, maintain hygiene, eat healthy, set goals for a better life, and dream of a better future. They shared what they learnt with their neighbour which not only benefitted them but also their community. They started performing better at work, achieving their targets, improving interpersonal relationships at the workplace and home, and looking forward to promotions. It helped them realise that being single is better than being in an unhappy relationship, and nothing/nobody can stand in the way of their dreams, if they put their heart and minds to it.
Swasti’s life skills training has contributed to creation of “Champions in the true sense” in factories and communities. They are living examples of strength, courage, perseverance and selfless service!
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