Emana Aslam's journey has brought her life learning experiences with many ups and downs. She believes any journey is incomplete if one has no rough path to walk. However, she walked on the bumpy road skilfully. She has attained whatever little she had thought of achieving. It took shape in the form of being a driving instructor and a gym trainer.
"I started my job as a gym trainer where I was earning Rs. 7,000 a month. The salary was meagre for the bills that I had to address. I fought for an increment, but the owner sacked me from the job and that was the turning point of my idea shaping into reality," Emana told The Logical Indian.
The idea of establishing a ladies' exclusive driving institute came to her mind when a friend of hers asked her if she could teach her driving.
"I always wanted to open my gym but lacked finances. Back in 2019, one of my friends needed help. She was going through a rough phase in her life, her father ill. In the absence of round-the-clock availability of a male member, her family was struggling to take her father to the hospital for a dialysis treatment as per the schedule. The family wanted her to learn driving but weren't comfortable with a male driving instructor," she said.
The 26-year-old said the problem turned out to be a blessing in disguise for her as she realised this gap in the driving instruction could be addressed. She enrolled on driving classes with a male instructor but the journey to register her driving institute was not as easy as it looked.
A Learning Process
It took her more than a year and scores of visits to Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) of two districts of Srinagar and Budgam to get it done. After securing a license for running the venture, she started the first-ever ladies' exclusive driving institute in Kashmir-"Steer We Go". Emana's friend became her first student. Eventually, she was able to meet her financial needs and started her gym also. Besides training females in driving skills, she also works as a gym trainer.
"My experience has been quite a learning process, and I believe there is a long way to go and achieve more," she added.
Although the COVID induced lockdown has pushed the business fraternity to hit rock bottom, Emana says she is contended with whatever little she makes.
"People are experiencing tough times since the pandemic has hit all. Some people have lost their jobs, and some are working on salary cut downs. Keeping in consideration the overall situation, I feel blessed to be able to earn whatever little I do," she explained.
Emana's team does not have a long list but consists of only two members. She handles most things herself, and the other member helps train girls how to get hands-on two-wheeled vehicles like scooters. She teaches driving four-wheelers like cars.
More Than 200 Women Trained
Until now, she has trained over 200 women at the institute, many of whom have got the licenses to drive while others are in the learners queue. The number of enrolments keeps counting with each passing day in her institute. After the course completion, she takes feedback from everyone to improve her training style.
Her driving institute offers two courses for females-one is for 21 days for beginners who do not know driving, and the other is for 19 days, which is advanced learning. Before hitting the roads directly, Emana makes sure to first train her students theoretically by conducting classes in her institute in a closed space and also make them learn with the help of models. Also, classes on road safety and traffic rules are conducted during the period.
Emana, who currently imparts the driving skills in only two districts of Kashmir, said she is looking forward to increasing branches in all the ten districts of Kashmir. "People do call and encourage me, but the journey ahead is challenging, and I am consistent in facing them," she said.
Sending out the message to those who dream big, she said, "Just stay consistent, dedicated and diligent in the desired field you want to set up for yourself. That's all what you need to sustain."