Nirmala’s family ancestors lived in Chandni Chowk, Old Delhi for generations. Growing up in Chandni Chowk, her childhood was filled with colours of beautiful garments and delicious food. Her father was a confectioner who worked in a sweet shop. Unfortunately, Nirmala’s mother passed away when giving birth to her eighth child. To make ends meet, Nirmala and her older siblings left school and sold flower garlands on streets at the young age of 11-12 years old.
When she was 14 years of age, Nirmala was forced into marriage. Her husband who was 19-year old was a tea seller in Lajpat Rai Market. He earned a living by selling tea at Rs.1.50 (0.021 USD/ 0.017 £) per cup. Due to poverty, they decided to build a hut near the river Yamuna, now called Chanderpuri slum. Things were bad and they went to bed with empty stomachs on most nights. Soon Nirmala gave birth to her son and life got more difficult. During this period, she took up the job of a Maid at 8-10 houses. She started washing dishes every morning and evening. She was able to make a decent living of Rs.5000 (70 USD/ 57 £) a month. With the help of this money, she was able to provide her only son with basic school education.
Nirmala associated herself with Asha in the year 2001 when she joined the Mahila Mandal (Women’s Association). She started to participate in all events and community participation as and when possible with her spare time. Through Asha’s financial program she came to know about the loan opportunity. Nirmala decided to take a loan of Rs.60,000 to further her son’s education. Her son had just graduated from college and wanted to pursue an administration course. The entire money was spent on the course fees. Nirmala and her husband paid back the loan amount with installments in due time.
With the course certificate in hand, her son was able to land a job at Khalsa College, Delhi University. This was a lucrative job in the Administrative department which paid him a monthly salary of Rs.20,000 (282 USD/ 228 £). Her son has been working and managing the household expenses for 3 years. He also made sure that both his parents stopped working and took rest at home. Currently, Nirmala and her husband run a small snack shop outside their home to keep themselves occupied. It has been more than 2 years since Nirmala has washed a utensil for anyone other than her family members. ‘I am grateful to Asha for helping me at such a critical time. My son has a respectable job and is feeding us now. It would never have been possible if we had not received the loan.’ says a happy Nirmala.