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32 year old Vaishali Varak comes from a small village in Shirgaon district, Sindhudurg in the Konkan region of Maharashtra. She and her family were heavily dependent on her father daily wage labourer in the village farms, their only source of livelihood. Her living conditions were not good and there were times when Vaishali slept on an empty stomach. Furthermore, her father became addicted to alcohol and passed away and that is when the family’s economic situation worsened manifold and her mother started working as a housemaid to support the family.

Vaishali was very interested in studies and always borrowed books from her friends as she couldn’t afford to buy her own textbooks. She managed to complete her 10th standard studies. But by the time she could enroll herself for further studies, her family received a marriage proposal for her and she agreed.

Post marriage she shifted to Mumbai with her husband and his family of 11 members. Since they lived in an extremely small space, it was very uncomfortable for her to adjust with the additional 9-10 members with no privacy and constant disturbance at home. “My husband is the eldest child of our family so the entire financial responsibility rested on him. But thankfully, we soon shifted out to another slum area, but financially it was a huge burden because my husband is only a factory worker and his income is not sufficient for such a large family. Especially since after sometime, we had two kids as well and our family income was only Rs. 10,000”, says Vaishali.

Two years ago, through her neighbour who was already associated with the Livelihood Project, Vaishali cam eot know about the workshops and job assignments that help with creating livelihood for the women of slum areas and she enrolled herself into the program. “It was here that I started to develop my creative skills. I took up the sewing course and stitched sling bags, pouches, and school uniforms. I even started doing this work at home and made some extra cash too! With my job at the Livelihood Centre plus my extra work at home, I am able to generate around Rs. 5,000 every month and this helps me pay the fees of my children’s education”

We are very happy to hear about the improvements in your life Vaishali and you are truly an inspirational figure to so many other women like yourself, who can change their own lives with their hard work and dedication. All they need is a little push and we are happy to have been that push for you.

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