Mirakle Star Profile: Vandana Sawant
May 10, 2010 · 2 Comments
Around three years ago, The United Nation announced a newConvention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD), asking signing member states to enforce a policy that will give all people with disabilities the right to find a job without discrimination.
Unfortunately (as we know from experience) things written down are not always put into practice. Especially not in India. We still hear of so many stories of people who are unable to find employment because they are judged harshly for their unacceptable differences. Instead of being given the opportunity to earn a living, we hear about the struggles endured by these people as they spend months and years of searching for a source of income. After this long and demoralising process they are left with no choice but to give up and stay at home: helpless and dependent.
While this reads like a sad tale of a reality where we are reminded of the political impotence of the United Nations, we do wish to tell you about an exception to the rule.
Today we here at Mirakle are pleased to tell you a story about one extremely determined woman who would not take no for an answer.
In some poetically ironic fashion: as the world is unable to accept her because of her difference, her strong will and determination reminds us all of the most basic human power that we all have resting within.
And with that we begin the story of Vandana Sawant, a determined soul that through it all stuck to her guns and refused to quit despite facing the grand forces against her.
Vandana, was born hearing but became deaf at an early age due to a high fever.
Born in Satara, her family moved to Pune where she started school but was only allowed to go up to the 4th standard. Back then, most deaf education stopped at the 4th standard. But Vandana was not ready to stop, so she convinced her parents to move to Mumbai where she could enroll in another school. Here she started all over again from scratch, retaking all of the 4 years. Once again she was stopped because the school claimed they did not have the resources to educate her any further. She did not let the ignorant negative stigmas that surrounded educating the deaf prevent her from learning, so she and her mother found someone who was willing to teach her at home. Thanks to the home tutor, she was able to receive schooling all the way up through the 11th Standard. Right after 11th standard, she took up typewriting classes so that she could be well qualified for a good job. However on completing the course, she found it to be harder than she imagined, even though there was no doubt that she was capable.
For over 10 years nonstop she was chasing job after job with no good luck. Rather than being discouraged by the process, her hunger for a job deepened with every rejection she received. “I looked everywhere. I asked around at a lot of places, asking everyone I know and many of them promised to call me back but they never did. It was very frustrating and I was sick of sitting at home alone. My husband would work until late at night and I would get so bored waiting for him to get back home. On top of that I felt terrible for not being able to help him pay for the bills or my son’s education.”
In the summer of 2009, Vandana heard about Mirakle Couriers through the grapevines. But even then, after her long and arduous search: when she came to the office looking for a job, she found out that there were no vacancies. Once again she proved her unrelenting determination and unwillingness to take no for an answer. Instead of giving up, she came back to the office again and again, day after day to persistently ask for something, anything at all. “I knew I had to keep fighting. I had to keep asking. I was not going to let this one slip. I guess the boss saw my determination and how seriously I was taking this and decided to hire me.” And just like that after 10 years of searching she got her very first job at Mirakle Couriers. Vandana eyes lit up as she recounted the story, her head tilted back and as she enacted her sigh of relief: “Finally!”
Besides not finding a job for 10 years, Vandana has also had a really tough ride in other respects – facing some terrible hardships. Just after her marriage the government repossessed their house in order to make room for a new apartment complex. “I was living in a house that my husband bought. It wasn’t the best but it was good enough to live in and it was great that we did not have to pay the rent since he owned it. Then the government came and told us they wanted to demolish our home to make room for a new apartment complex. They told us that they would move us into one to compensate for our loss. I did not like the idea because the apartment‘s rooms were small and we would have to pay a lot more money to take care of it.”
I wasn’t really worried at first because my husband’s parents who lived nearby had 5 houses and he would eventually get one of them. But when the inheritance came into question, the siblings started fighting with each other over it. To make things worse, in their bitterness they expressed their disgust with me as a deaf woman. I would wake up in the morning and find out that someone knocked down our flowers, spit on our doors, marked up our walls. Once I even found urine in the door way. It was terrible. They wouldn’t even talk to our 11 years old son.”
Vandana was so distraught when she found out that the siblings were not going to let her husband get one of the houses. “We had to talk to them all the time, trying to get them to share up the inheritance but it only sparked more anger.” It was during all this that she trained herself to keep being positive whatever the world throws at you. Now looking back, Vandana is happy she did not give up or get discouraged. “Because I did not quit through all those hard times, I was able to eventually find a job. Now I help my husband take care of the house, so we do not have to depend on his siblings anymore. We can just keep our distance now since we are better off.”
“It’s my first time saving some money. It is also the first time I can help my husband pay the bills and buy food. I can finally go out and buy food, clothes and enjoy life.”
Vandana is looking forward to celebrating her one year anniversary at Mirakle soon. She has being working here for 11 months now.
Vandana is super quiet and works diligently in the back office. You will never hear a complaint or concern from her and perhaps now you can understand why. Landing the job at Mirakle has given her a small window of light to the dark life that she has known.
It is just another gentle reminder that we humans are all made of the same fibers and mental capacities. When we decide to lock on to our determination and command our will there is no limit to achieving our goals.
If that doesn’t inspire you, I don’t know what will.
Interview conducted by Rian
Edited by Rohan