Sanam recounts the day there was a gas explosion in her house. “I had left my son at school and had just arrived home to start cooking for the day. The next thing I remember is waking up and looking around me to see that I am in the hospital. My husband divorced me later, just because he couldn’t stand the sight of my burnt body. But I didn’t lose hope. I believe girls shouldn’t lose hope and should challenge the situations. I recovered, began working for Rs.12 a day. It’s been 14 years since then. I block print 15 pages in 3 colours per day and now earn Rs. 4500 per month. I live with my son and I am financially independent. I am happy that I can support myself, this is my greatest achievement of life”
Sitamma asked us if we really wanted to listen to her story, since it was a tragedy. When we assured her we would , she began. “I was affected by leprosy. I saw the white patches and went to the doctor for a checkup, that’s when I discovered it. Later, I was totally rejected by society. I was not allowed to go to school, people would never speak to me and I was not allowed to use public buses. Conductors and drivers would make me get off the bus. I have walked long distances for many treatments. No one would rent out a house to my family. I got 7 years of treatment in a hospital where even though my hands were tied, the director himself fed me sometimes. Even after I was cured I was not allowed to attend any public functions, or any training classes. I joined an organisation which treated me equally and understood me. They trained me, and I learnt stitching here. I started my work earning Rs 2 per day and today I am earning Rs 5600 per month. I work here making dolls, stitching, and also designing new products. I have worked here for 36 years and I will retire in the next two months. I am not married and I have no idea what I am going to do after this. I still want to work till my last breath. I have designed something new today” and she happily showed us her new designs.
Sitamma is one of our GiftAbled artists and the creator of soft toys. You can purchase them on our site, here. www.giftabled.com/store/toys