Imagine the mental trauma of a woman who gets beaten up every day by her husband and disabled daughter who cannot do her routine work without any help.
This is the story of 40-year-old Shakuntala.
Shakuntala migrated from a small village Gonda, Uttar Pradesh to Anna Nagar slum community after her marriage about 22 years ago. Her husband Murari started working as daily wage labour whereas Shakuntala stayed at home. They started living in a rented 25 sq ft shanty.
One day when Shakuntala was sitting idle at home, the Asha team visited her and motivated to join the Mahila Mandal (Women’s Group). Shakuntala started attending the meetings regularly which made her gain knowledge about women’s rights and women’s health. During this time the Women Association decided to save some amount in a local bank nearby. Along with all Shakuntla also started saving amount as little as Rs 10 per month. With the saved money Shakuntala bought the same shanty where they were living on rent.
The couple was soon blessed with 3 girls. Out of three was Bhawna who was born disabled. She had a hunchback and her legs were weak. At the age of 3 months, Bhawana was operated to correct her spine. When Bhawna turned 18 months, she was diagnosed with Hydrocephalus, also called water in the brain. She was immediately admitted to the hospital and was operated for the same.
The medical treatment of Bhawna exhausted all the money Shakuntla had. Still, she did not lose hope. To get her kids educated she admitted them to a nearby government school. Shakuntala used to carry Bhawna on her back to drop and pick up from school every day. After school, she also used to take her for physiotherapy. The family had to face a lot of financial crisis. Because of which Shakuntala started working as a caretaker at a nearby bungalow. When Bhawna was in class 9th when her mother could not carry her on back, Bhawana decided not to continue her studies.
Bhawna also suffers from bowel leakage. Her mother cleans her soiled clothes every day before going to bed. “It gets difficult in winters when there is no sun and clothes take few days to dry up properly,” said Shakuntala.
“Four years ago, I was too bed-ridden due to extreme abdominal pain. Asha staff took me to the nearby hospital. I was diagnosed with Hernia and operated for the same. The whole time I was worried about my daughter, but Asha stood beside me and took care of both of us. I am thankful to the Asha team who has always stood beside me like a rock,” said Shakuntala.
Shakuntala does not get any help from her husband Murari as he was trapped in a bad company and discontinued his work.
Shakuntala still has hope for her three kids and want them to be as strong as she is.