Meet Manipur’s First Woman Auto Driver, Whose Grit Inspired an Award-Winning Documentary

40-year-old Laibi Oinam took up the job of an auto driver to support her children and bedridden husband. In 2015, filmmaker Meena Longjam made a documentary on her, which won a National Award in the non-feature category. Laibi also recently made headlines when she ferried a nurse who had recovered from COVID-19 for 140 km, when everyone else refused to do so.

Many have the option of choosing a career after dedicating a good amount of thought and planning. But Laibi Oinam, who is Manipur’s first woman auto driver, did not have the same luxury.

Laibi (40) was working in a brick kiln, when, eight years ago, her husband was rendered bed-ridden due to severe diabetes, and was no longer able to step out of the house. To ensure her sons still had access to education, Laibi took up the job of an auto driver to make ends meet.

But she faced much ridicule and bullying from people, who told her that she’d rather do a job that was considered “suitable” for women. But Laibi persevered because her sons’ education was imperative.

Her hard work and dedication were recognised when, in 2015, filmmaker Meena Longjam covered her story in a documentary. This film went on to win the National Award in the non-feature category and helped Laibi increase her earnings. It also, finally, earned her the respect and recognition she had always deserved.

More recently, Laibi made headlines when she drove almost 140 km to help a nurse who had recovered from COVID-19 from Imphal to Kamjong at night after hospital authorities and other cab drivers refused to do so. For this, she was given a cash reward of Rs 1.1 lakh by Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh.

Watch Laibi’s inspiring grit and determination in the video below:

(Edited by Divya Sethu)

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