A champion for the cause of people with physical disabilities, of women’s and children’s rights – Rupmani Chhetri is caught in the trap she has been fighting against. No one wants to give her a job.
Born deaf (speech and hearing impaired), Rupmani’s family came to India from Nepal when Rupmani was just six months old. Her parents were heartbroken at her condition and would try to help her in every way they could. With time, they seemed to start losing interest in her. After the birth of her younger siblings, born without physical disabilities, she was reduced to being a shadow about the house.
“My father stopped paying the fees for my education and I was stopped from going out of the house,” she shares. “My brothers and sisters always tried to help me but there were so young that they could not help much.” She fought her first battle with her parents when she ensured that they did not stop her education. “It was a regular school and teachers did not have the time to help me with my coursework. Books and tuition would cost more money.”
At the age of 12, Rupmani would sneak away from the house during her winter break at school and started working with daily wage labourers laying a road in Darjeeling. After the first two days she worked there, she was put on rolls and at the end of the month, her mother was called to accept her very first payment – Rs 300.
After suffering her initial share of struggles, Rupmani found a deep friendship with a deaf boy based in Delhi. He told her about the variety of prospects that a hard-working girl like her could have in the big city. Rupmani took a leap of faith and arrived in the Capital.
“It was all so big,” she recalls. “Everything here was larger than life and my hometown seemed so small and backwards.” Soon, her friend asked her to marry him and she agreed. “After the first few months, I realised that he didn’t like the fact that I wanted to work. He would object to my success and would try and stop me from going out at all. I understood quite quickly that just like my parents, my husband also wanted me to stay indoors and stay dependent on him.”
The divorce was difficult but Rupmani came out stronger. She found a single apartment in Malviya Nagar where she still lives and has been sustaining herself by working, first as a health care assistant and worked her way up the ladder to become a Programme Associate at HAQ, Centre for Child’s Rights. Over the years, she has also been an active member of the Samarthyam’s Women with Disabilities Forum for Action. Her work in the field was recently recognised when she was awarded at 2nd FDR National Disability Excellence Award.
She has been sending money back to her family every month and supports her siblings in their education and her parent’s in the household expenses.
“I have sent out more than 500 applications for a job but no one has responded,”she shares. “I have to pay rent and for other basic expenses. I need to find a job.”
One of the biggest challenges that she is facing is her inability to write good English. “I have studied in an open school and I am not very good at writing English but I have a good career track and I am hard-working,” she tells us.
“I know that for many companies my disability is an issue for many companies that I have applied to. It overshadows my work and my talents. It is very hard for me to communicate the same with my interviewers as most companies do not even have an interpreter,” she says.
After not receiving any response from any quarter, Rupmani has taken to Facebook and posted a cover letter on her status. Very few people have shown interest as yet.
Rupmani’s story is just one of the many stories found in every corner of India. Better rights and employment opportunities for people with disabilities will be a great addition to India’s workforce and talent pool. It is high time, we learn to understand those who speak differently and offer them a chance to live with dignity.
News Source: indiatimes