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This Story of Poverty, Motherhood & Aspirations Could Be the Story of Every Housemaid in India

Migration and poverty forced Shobha to quit her education. Rising against all odds, she decided to battle poverty by educating her children.

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Shobha Thakur, 38, leaves for work with the hope of fulfilling her dream – a dream that gave her the strength to battle poverty. She says, “My daughter always wanted to learn designing or nursing, but my economic condition is the biggest obstacle.” It’s normal routine for Shobha now. A maid and a proud mother, Shobha believes that education is the only thing which can uplift her from poverty.

Shobha managed to study till class 5, after which her life changed completely.

Shobha Thakur

Hailing from Uplai village of Solapur district, Shobha has witnessed poverty since childhood. “I always wanted to educate myself, but my father was working in Ichalkaranji town of Kolhapur district. Eventually, we had to migrate and this ended my dream of education,” she says.

Shobha migrated to Ichalkaranji in 1995. “I didn’t like the town, so I didn’t continue my education,” she added. In order to make ends meet, she started working as a maid from the age of 14 and got married at the age of 16, which introduced a chapter of tremendous struggle in her life.

Shobha’s husband was an alcoholic and this created problems on several fronts. “My husband didn’t give any money for children’s education. He never gave me money either, so I had to continue working as a maid,” she says.

Her daughter successfully cleared class 10, after which she got admitted in a local commerce college of Ichalkaranji. She dreams of becoming a designer or learn nursing someday.

Shobha’s son is in his first year of B.Com and works in a nearby factory to help contribute to the family income.

“Once, I used to work in 11 homes, but now my health has deteriorated. Currently, I work in seven homes and manage to earn ₹6,000 monthly. My house rent is ₹2,000. It’s difficult to run a family of three with mere ₹4,000 in hand,” says Shobha.

Her husband passed away in 2008 due to a heart attack. After that, Shobha’s crisis worsened as the school fees kept increasing. “Initially, people didn’t help me, but now a few people help me by buying clothes, shoes or books for my children. I’ve faced hard times when there was nobody to help, but somehow I managed to educate my children.”

Her battles don’t just end with a basic income. She says, “I can never reveal to my distant relatives that I am a maid. I tell them that I work in a local saree shop. There is a stigma attached to working as a maid, but I have to battle poverty and educate my children.”

(Written by Sanket Jain)

About the author: Sanket Jain is a rural reporter, PARI volunteer and Founder of Bastiyon Ka Paigam. He is passionate about listening and understanding the everyday lives of everyday people. He is often found in rural areas covering stories of abject poverty.

This story was originally published here.

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