Stories about people are always interesting. All the more when it’s about hard work, determination, passion, overcoming struggles and doing extraordinary work or service. Such stories have a lasting impression on our minds-inspiring and motivating us to be determined in life and realise that success comes through perseverance. NT BUZZ gathers a few stories of such hard-working women
RAMANDEEP KAUR I SHERAS FERNANDES I SACHI NAIK I VENITA GOMES
Gender not a barrier
Stating that it is a privilege to be a woman, director of Bookworm, Sujata Noronha says that inspite of being a women she has been able to achieve great things in life and that gender was never something that stopped her from achieving a little extra.
With an aim to impart knowledge and inculcate the habit of reading among children and elders, Sujata with various Bookworm initiatives has been encouraging people to indulge into reading and writing. Her goal is to work towards making the community literate, and with this motive she has been planning various activities. She is a literacy educator with extensive experience in literacy instruction and children literature. In her career she has faced several ups and downs but this did not stop her from achieving her goal. Sujata opens up about the difficulties she faced in her career, she says: “When I was with Bookworm it was difficult for us to look out for a team of youngsters who would be willing to help us. We found it really difficlut to look out for dedicated volunteers who would join hands with me in this. This was more of a challenge than anything else,” says Sujata. She hopes to continue working to spread literacy in the state.
A silent effort
Sarah Andrade from Davorlim, with a small team of dedicated volunteers has been frequently visiting and interacting with the Vanarmare tribe in Nirankal village. The reason for her visit to this village and the tribe is to educate the children of this tribal community. She feels that there is a need to impart knowledge and education to the children. “This tribe is not much exposed to the mainstream world, hence they are not aware of what’s happening in the state. There are around 45 children, out of which 30 go to school but they do not know anything about hygiene and sanitation,” says Sarah. To help these children, every Monday and Tuesday she teaches them how to write and moral value. Besides, she plans several activities for them like action songs, DIY craft, dance, and various other activities. To support them she has written to the local MLA asking to give them their land so that they can live there without any inconvenience.
Hale, hearty and hardworking
Anyone who has studied at St Xavier’s College, Mapusa, over the last two decades will surely remember the ever smiling and frail looking Ujwali, who works as a janitor.
The 56-year-old originally hailing from a village in Nepal, accompanied her husband to Goa in search of a job. Before joining work at Xavier’s, she used to be at home and out of boredom she approached the management of the college for a job. She narrates: “I was given the job of watering the garden and after some years I got a job of opening and locking the classrooms, disposing garbage, etc.” She adds that she loves everything about her job.
When asked if students look down upon her, the humble lady says: “No! The students here are like my own children. They always ask ‘do you want help aunty?’ or when I am carrying garbage bins they take it from my hand”.
Though the College begins at 8.30 a.m., Ujawali’s day starts way before students enter the college premises. She comes to college at 7 a.m., opens classrooms, and sweeps the entire area around the buildings. “At 12 p.m. I go home to eat and come back at 2 p.m. to finish work by 5 p.m. after closing the college.” Those who’ve seen her work are left surprised seeing her take huge leaps and carry heavy bins and baskets.
(Inputs from Shayoni Mitra)
Evergreen at 75
75-year-old Piedade Fernandes from Corjuem-Aldona, a passionate gardener is energetic, enthusiastic and ardent about gardening. Piedade took up gardening in 1997 in her plot at Corjuem since then has been grown an array of vegetables, flower plants and fruits. Her garden on laterite has a layer of soil and she grows vegetables like brinjal, cabbage (green and red), cauliflower, amaranth, cluster beans, lentils, spinach, herbs and spices, tomato, chillies as well as exotic vegetables like broccoli, turnips amongst others. The garden abodes fruits like pineapples, cashews, mangoes, chikoos and flower plants like roses, orchids and lots more. Besides growing her own vegetables and fruits she also produces her own compost and uses organic manure.
Not having any formal education in gardening she is a self taught gardener. “I attended workshop and various sessions to understand what goes into planting a garden and how to maintain it properly- from watering to weeding and more,” she says adding that she has two people to help her. Piedade sells the produce in the Mapusa Friday market, besides people also visit her garden to buy vegetables and saplings.
Piedade has participated in several gardening contests and competitions held across the state and even at 75 she is keen to learn new techniques. She is the first prize winner of the Organic Kitchen Garden Contest 2012 and 2013. Though there have been times when her crops did not reap what she sowed nothing could stop her from planting a new batch of vegetables all over again. “I am still into gardening because I don’t want to keep my land barren, moreover I like doing it,” she says.
Creating reality of dreams
An architect by profession, Porvorim-based Rosette Lobo wanted to be one since she was a child. She shares that her sister remembers going through her high school note books with ‘I want to become an architect’ scribbled over the back pages. And the day Rosette got through to Goa College of Architecture, Althino she knew her life would never be the same.
Rosette along with her husband, Amit Sardesai started their firm ‘Amit & Associates’ in 2006. However, success took a bit of time, lots of sweat and blood and burning of the midnight LED to move from one prestigious project to another.
Speaking about the challenges faced, she says that as a woman, the different roles we play of a daughter, sister, wife, mother, professional, etc, is challenging enough. She says: “We women want it all and are still happy which is quite a task. Luckily for me I’ve married my best friend and I’ve got support system in my mother, sister and father-in-law.”
“Once the ride is smooth the journey is enjoyable,” concludes Rosette.
Hardwork reaps success
Aarti Nayak has been teaching vocals at Kalangan, a centre for Performing Arts. She has completed her ‘Sangeet Alankar’ (M Mus) from Akhil Bhartiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, besides, a post graduate degree in Music and Commerce.
She’s won several prestigious awards like ‘Sangeet Ratna’, ‘PtBasavraj Rajguru’ National Youth Award, and ‘Giants International Award’ for her work in the field of music. “I consider myself to be born lucky to have found a guru in my father Ramrao Nayak. Only a few blessed people find a right guru who would discover the soul of your music.” However, her first guru was her mother, who learnt music after getting married. “She used to take me along for the classes and I used to enjoy melodious nap. Later, my mother started teaching me basics at home. My inclination towards vocals and music began from my mother’s womb.”
Aarti believes that nothing comes without hard work. She is very optimistic in life and says that she’s been lucky to have not had any challenges come her way. “Gurus blessings hold supreme power which helps his pupils to face any kind of challenges and hurdles. I am certainly blessed to have this power!”
Support and confidence matters most
60-year-old Sunita Subhash Patil hails from a village in Maharashtra. She was into farming. However, 14 years after her marriage, she moved to Goa to see herself grow into entrepreneurship. “When I moved to Goa, I helped one lady in cooking to run a school canteen. She introduced me to several others who wanted to cook on regular basis as well as on occasions like Ganesh Chaturthi,” says Sunita.
Sunita knew that cooking was her strength and she utilised it to her best ability. She started her own business and began making papad, daangar, pickles that are essential for a complete Goan meal. “My husband and our two sons used to live on rent here. My daughter had already got married by the time we moved to Goa. With this business, we educated our sons as well as bought our house. Of course it was not easy but it wasn’t impossible too,” she says with confidence.
Sunita soon started preparing Maharashtrian dishes like zunka-bhakar and puran poli that always has high demand. Although, she has stopped making papad and daangar, she continues to cook home-made delicacies for people.
It is only when a husband and wife work together that the house remains happy and content. Sunita says: “Had I not received my husband’s support, I wouldn’t have been able to do everything that I have done so far. When I would go to people’s house to cook, he trusted me. When I would prepare papad at home, he would endorse and sell them around the area. My husband and children assured me that they are always with me.”
‘Amchi mogachi aai’
Sita Atmaram Dessai, popularly known as ‘aai’ has been selling milk at the booth near the Electricity Department at Aquem for around 40 years, when milk booths weren’t even so popular. In the vicinity of Davorlim- Aquem area, ‘aai’ is quite famous, more for being a kind-hearted lady who wears a smile on her face. However, behind that smile, she has borne much pain to run her house.
Hailing from Bicholim, ‘aai’ was compelled to move to Davorlim, Margao when her husband expired. “My brother got me here to help me out from my situation. I knew that my four children needed me and I was ready to work hard to bring them up,” she says.
By fortune, an assistant engineer at Electricity Department late N S Malkarnekar told ‘aai’ that he would help her financially and he opened a milk booth. ‘Aai’ would get up early in the morning and sell milk from 6.30 a.m. to 7.30 a.m. who waited in long queues. Later, she would go to a few houses to do household chores. This was not the end to her day, she would go to the market, buy coconuts and would sell them door-to-door at Borda, Monte Hill and other places.
“I put away all my fears and had complete faith in God. I would walk alone in the morning to reach my booth, when no lady would dare to do so in those times. I learnt math very late in life to marry my two daughters and two sons, and buy a house,” ‘Aai’ says before adding that she is now content with her life as all her children and their families respect and care for her, for they have seen her struggle.
Passion over profession
Clare Gracias Flor from Benaulim has given prominence to her passion of designing garments by quitting her teaching profession. She recently launched her clothing boutique named, Clare Flor Designs that caters to all fashion needs from western wear to ethnic fashion clothing. “We cater to customised needs. Besides, I also do designs for Christian and Hindu weddings. I design and we manufacture it in Goa itself,” says Clare who is also a lawyer. She decided to quit her teaching job only to completely focus on her designing. “To give my 100 per cent to my job I decided to quit teaching and concentrate on designing,” she says adding that her family has always been supportive.
From her school days Clare had a dream to launch her own boutique but it was only in November 2017 that she launched her brand. She feels that people should try to take up to being entrepreneurs.