Rani, frail but happy

Every young woman in Ruhamah is special and each one of them in different ways. There can be very many of them and yet each one of them will be special in a special way. Rani* is no exception.

I met Rani in my first week of work. Rani who walked out of Freedom Firm’s aftercare program returned with her husband and daughter. There was much rejoicing in the office and I saw grace in the way the staff welcomed her. She was deserted by her husband soon after. Our social workers helped Rani place her daughter in a home and a school. Once she had a job and some money, her husband returned and she had a son with him. A year later we had to get firm with Rani. Her work was not up to our quality standards and we had to reject much of her work. She was not taking good care of her child or her health. She did not have a spirit of contentment or gratitude. She had lost the will to live in dignity. She wanted all that Ruhamah did not believe in. Disciplining her was a hard painful road and yet Rani the Pune workshop manager, Rakhi the social worker, Mala and I decided to tread that path. We wanted her to know grace but we also wanted her to know living with dignity. We wanted her to be empowered and not be a beggar. We wanted her to be a good mother, an efficient working woman and we wanted her to step out in faith knowing that she was loved.

Rani’s skill with metal work needed a lot of improvement and continuing to pay her the salary we were paying her was dole and was also demotivating for others in the workshop. However we knew she was very skilled in Aari work. Rani did not want to move to Kolkata and hence when we offered her a job in the Kolkata workshop, she turned the offer down and asked to be employed in Pune.

After many efforts to steer her motivation to wanting to live dignified, we felt we had no option but to either ask her to leave Ruhamah or move to the Kolkata workshop. Rani played all her cards in order to negotiate her way back to the Pune office. We pulled strings that she knew were soft ones for each of us involved in disciplining her. When she realised none of us were changing our minds, she agreed to move to our Kolkata workshop leaving her son in her mother-in-law’s care.  A hard decision for both Rani and all of us at Ruhamah.

Rani had discontinued her medication because she could not weather the side effects and hence when she was just settling in Kolkata, in the workshop and the hostel she lives in, she picked up a severe infection. Zeenat, the Kolkata workshop manager, visited her at her hostel and spoke to her over the phone, Rani visited her during her holiday in Kolkata.  Rani was soon well enough to visit the workshop.

Last week, Rani’s husband called me and said he wanted to live with Rani and his son as a family. Naresh, Rani’s husband, and his mother kept saying that Naresh had changed and would provide for his family. I wanted to talk to Rani and know what she was thinking and so I told Naresh that I would speak to Rani and then talk to him again. I was able to talk to Rani over a VOIP call last week when she visited the workshop. My joy knew no bounds hearing what she had to say and I take great pleasure quoting her.  Rani said “I find it hard to trust him again even though my heart wants to. I want to bring my son as soon as I can and keep him with me in the hostel and at daycare when I am at work.  Please tell him to find a job, start working and saving money. I don’t have enough money to rent a house now. I will be able to save some money in 6 months. Once he has saved enough money to pay towards renting a house, please ask him to take a train and come over to Kolkata for us to start living as a family again. I am happy now. I am taken care of very well and am even having my medicines because I know people will take care of me when the medicines’ side effects kick in. My husband needs to show me he can do just that much for me and be there for me and my son.”

To me this is progress. This is empowerment. Rani showed she was able to take a decision bearing in mind what her heart wants and reality, and was able to give that second chance that she had been given. All this while making sure she and her child were safe.

Rani is special. Each of our young women is special. In different ways for different reasons.

– Catherine Raja, CEO of Ruhamah Designs

Read more about Rani on Greg & Mala’s 4 part blog series called ‘Following Rani

* Name changed to protect identity