Story 77

This is my success

I grew up in a small village in Andhra Pradesh in India. I had polio when I was 3 years old. Getting to school wasn’t easy.

Saritha

My mum sometimes had to carry me on her back. But I was determined to be a success. I studied hard, and I went on to college.

My father passed away when I was still studying, leaving my family with no income. I decided to start a small shop in my village, selling daily essentials like soap.

It was around that time that I first came into contact with Leonard Cheshire Disability. The team from their Access to Livelihoods project came to my village. They were providing support for people with disabilities to find employment. They gave me a loan to grow my shop and advice on how to develop my business.

I talked to them a lot about what I wanted to do and told them that what I really wanted was to make things better for my family. They believed in me, and helped me to realise that there were more things I could do. They encouraged me to enrol in a week long leadership training course for people with disabilities that was being run by Leonard Cheshire Disability in Bangalore. It was the first time I had left my village.

Until that time, I felt there were so many things I couldn’t do because of my disability. But I learnt so much on that course, and it really built my confidence. I came away feeling so motivated. And then the Leonard Cheshire team in Bangalore offered me a job! I spent two years working for their livelihoods resource centre as an accountant and administrator. All that time I was developing my skills, learning English and computer skills at the centre.

From the time I moved to Bangalore I had one goal – I wanted to work for Accenture, who support Leonard Cheshire’s Access to Livelihoods programme. And just over a year ago I became a project management officer at Accenture. It’s my dream job. I’m so happy. I’ve been able to move my mother and brother to live with me here in Bangalore. My brother also had polio as a child, and Leonard Cheshire Disability has supported him to find a job too as a data operator.

Everything I have achieved today is because of Leonard Cheshire’s livelihoods resource centre. It is my learning platform, where I polished and moulded myself to get into a good career. I still go back and visit often, to get support and learn new things. It’s like a family for me.

I never thought my life would be like it is now. When I was growing up, my neighbours used to say why is she studying, what is she going to do? Back then I didn’t have an answer. But now I have an answer. I can do this. When I go back to my village they are so proud of me. This is my success.

When I go back to my village they are so proud of me. This is my success.