If anytime you will walk into OpASHA’s headquarters, you will find a lean and fair lady working with her eyes set on computer amongst many busy faces. You talk to her and you will know how cheerful and confident she is. Her name is Asha,( similar to that of our organization), and she is our Program Manager for East & West Delhi.
When she joined our organization in 2007, she was subdued and nervous, with very little confidence.
“Operation ASHA is not just providing TB treatment”, says Dr Shelly Batra, President and Co-Founder. “It also provides jobs for disadvantaged people from slums and rural areas. It gives them education, upgrades their knowledge and skills, and gives them economic support and self-respect, and adds to their status in their families and communities. This is all the more important for the women we employ.”
Looking back into Asha’s life, we get to know that she had been working as a primary teacher in a school before she joined our NGO. She used to work for 11 back-breaking hours every day, around seven hours as a teacher, and the remaining five hours doing household work at the school principal’s house. For this hard work, she was given a small salary of Rs. 600 per month, with an increment of Rs. 100 every year. Her last drawn salary was Rs. 900 per month. However, the days were long and tiring and she worked wholeheartedly but she never got any recognition for her work.
She worked there for almost four years until she got married. Like every young girl she dreamed of a blissful life with her husband, but God had something else in store for her, precisely opposite to her dreams. During interview she attempts to hide her misery, but the pain reflects in her eyes. While holding tears, she quotes that “Those were the longest and toughest years of my life because my life was aimless, but I thought of doing something because I wanted to prove myself and give a decent life to my son”
Thomas S. Monson believed that “Our most significant opportunities will be found in times of greatest difficulty.” One day, her sister-in-law informed her about a requirement in Operation ASHA. The family supported her and she appeared for the interview immediately and joined Operation ASHA in 2007. Her initial salary was Rs. 2000 which was 50 % more than her previous remuneration.
Colin Powell has stated that “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”It was pertinent for ASHA, she worked as a TB treatment Provider with full devotion for four years and subsequently she gained a life with financial independence, self esteem, love and dignity.
Operation ASHA was growing and Provider ASHA was growing with it. She proved her worth as a Provider and in return got promoted as Assistant Program Manager in 2010. She wanted to accept but politely declined, because this meant slightly longer working hours and more responsibilities and her family was not ready for it. “Strength comes from struggle.”Through struggles you learn to become stronger, better and wiser and you’re thinking shifts from “I can’t do this” to “I must do this.”So, in 2011 despite all adverse circumstances she accepted the promotion and became Assistant program manager and graduated to Program Manager in 2012. This gave her a better position, better learning and of course much better salary.
Now she is a MANAGER!!
She is given a new identity card, designating her as a Program Manager. It was an achievement indeed and she still has that card, as a remembrance of her first achievement.
Today her salary is Rs. 7500 per month, 4 times of what she was earning six years back. Now she is capable to take care of all household matters. Also, her son is living a comfortable life and studying in a renowned public school in Delhi. She acknowledges that “if I would not have been working with OpASHA, I couldn’t have imagined such a life for me, my family and my son.” She laughs and continues “My son is proud of me. He is small, so when he reads the name of the NGO, he thinks that name of NGO is on his mother’s name”.
Financial stability is just a part of what she has achieved. Her learning is much higher than what it used to be, which helps her in professional as well as personal life. Now she can stand and talk in front of anyone without hesitation. She had never seen a computer in her life; she is confident with excel sheets. Initially, understanding English was beyond her capabilities, but now she can understand and speak too.
Life has changed drastically, from a monthly salary of Rs.900 to Rs 7500 and a package full of admiration and affection in office, home and society.
This story of ASHA reflects the best utilization of a small opportunity. “We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Triumphant people are those who grab it and OpASHA gives it to the people with talent and those who desire to change circumstances, accept accountability, prove their capabilities and keep rising. It brings self satisfaction, dignified life style and admiration in society to those who are willing to work with full enthusiasm.