Since my childhood, I had always dreamed of serving the nation by becoming an Army woman, but my father didn't allow for being a girl child, as happens in most conservative households in our country. Then I thought to become a doctor and serve the poor people. But due to financial constraints, I could pursue MBBS and eventually had to drop that idea as well. Having little idea what to do further, I enrolled myself in a nursing course, maybe because it was related to a doctor's profession. It was only after joining the course I got to know how to serve the poor and needy people. I understood the difference between sympathy and empathy. I started to travel on a new path and centre in the thought of serving the needy.
Helping the street dwellers and homeless people was sort of in my blood since I was very young. I would save whatever little money I used to have and spent it feeding the street dwellers. During my college days, I occasionally saw an old man on the roadside and often tried to reach out. He used to be hesitant initially but over the time I developed a connection with him and later convinced him to rehabilitate at the Villupuram Anbu Jothi Ashram. This was the turning point in my life. Since then, I have rehabilitated hundreds of people and helped them in getting employment too.
After some time, I joined an NGO that served the similar purpose. But unfortunately, I faced gender bias on a daily basis. The members of the organisation did not like me doing the fieldwork just because I was a woman. They often used to call me by names like fame creator or over actor. So I eventually decided to quit and instead work individually. So, after a short period, I started my own NGO.
Now in Jeevitham Foundation, we identify the abandoned people from different corners of the city, rehabilitate them and either admit them into shelter homes, or in hospitals for treatment, help them rejoin with their family and provide jobs to some. Further, I help some people to get rid of their addictions as well. Sometimes, there behaviour is quite aggressive and can even bite and physically assault. So it's essential to make them feel secure and gain their confidence.
I have also seen some terrible phases in my life where I struggled for a single penny. Due to some family issues and misunderstandings, I once left home and fought daily for food, clothes, and all basic needs. When I had my periods, I didn't even have enough money to get a sanitary napkin. I often cut my shawl and use it as a substitute for a pad. Fortunately, I got a job then and started living my normal life once again.
So far, I have rehabilitated around 350 roadside abandoned people and changed their lives. With my friends and team, we are incredibly moving and successfully putting a smile on the faces of these marginalised people.
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