Mrs. Manju, a 35 years old mother of three, 2 sons and a daughter, is yet another sufferer from smallpox, which she contracted as a child of four; and became blind. She was washing utensils outside her house when we reached her place for our survey. However, she refused to engage in any conversation whatsoever, with us. We left but returned the next day with a sympathetic family member whom we were able to locate. We were able to inform her about our programme but she said a flat 'No' to our offers of training. We were persistent and the family member accompanied us for three days, after which she relented and joined our training.
After a week she informed us that her brother had objected to any male member being 'near' her. Some village people intervened on our behalf, and with a host of conditions, our trainer resumed visits to her house.
Manju's husband was unskilled and worked as a daily wager and the family of five lived in penury, barely eking out a living on his earnings. Manju herself exhibited a strange characteristic of swinging emotions - either totally believing or disbelieving other people. We had to deal with it with patience. Often, she refused to co-operate with the trainer, refusing to participate in the learning sessions. Village people were helpful and eventually we were able to impart training in O&M and DLS. Since we found her fit for training to be a petty shop owner, we also imparted basic accounting skills, understanding a weighing balance and recognizing money.
Today she is successfully running a petty shop with great diligence. She is delighted with her daily sales of Rs. 500 to 700 and now happily adds on to her husband's earnings. "I am very happy," she says. We were unable to meet the brother but in follow up sessions we would do so and thereby gauge the attitudinal change to both disability and gender issues.