“When life pulls you down, you have no option but to get back on your feet.”

That is what my life has taught me. My parents were farmers in the town of Bhikamkor, near Jodhpur. I was one of 10 children and it was difficult for my parents to make both ends meet. Going to school was a luxury and I was pulled out of school after standard 5 my mother did not want me to study. She thought it was better for me to learn how to run a household since that would help me after I got married.I was married at a very young age. However, I moved to my husband’s house only when I turned 18. I felt like I had moved to another world. From a young girl who was like a free bird, I was suddenly like a caged bird. I was not allowed to step out of home or talk to anyone in the neighbourhood. One day, I was alone at home taking care of my household chores. My husband and his family had gone to work in the cattle shed. My son was sleeping in a hammock in another room. I could check on him only after three hours since I was busy with too many things. When I did check on him, my little baby had suffocated to death in his sleep.

“Learning a skill taught me to live again.”

One day while attending a meeting in our village, I came to know that ICICI Foundation had set up an ICICI Academy for Skills centre and was offering free skill development courses. That meeting inspired me to join the Dress Designing course offered by the Academy.The course completely transformed me. After completing the course, I started stitching bags for a tailor near our village. When I felt I had gained enough experience, I started a women’s group with other women like me. We soon got a loan from ICICI Bank. We supported each other and even helped each other pay our loan installments. With my share of the loan, I was able to buy raw materials and machinery to start my own business.Today I earn well. I not only pay my loan installments but also save for our future and contribute to household expenses. This is just the beginning. Once I pay back this loan, I will apply to ICICI Bank for a bigger loan to expand my business.

“I look forward to everyday and dream of a better future.”

From being depressed and detached, I now look forward to every day. I dream of a better tomorrow. I wish that every woman should believe that with the right skills, she can be independent and have a future where she can make a meaningful contribution.I tell as many people as I can about the course at the ICICI Academy for Skills. The Academy not only taught me skills but also empowered me to turn my life around and face the world as a strong, self-reliant and confident woman. Now I sometimes think with a smile – if my son were around, he would be proud of me.