Friday, August 15, 2008

Sushila three years later

Three years ago, we met Sushila on the streets of Mysore. She was probably 20 or 21 at the time, and her two little ones, Vishnu and Pallavi, were the first that we met. Back then, Vishnu was almost a newborn and Pallavi was about three years old.

Sushila used to beg for a living, and cooked for her kids right on the sidewalk. Her husband had been put in jail for something he didn't do (we believed her because one day he was out of jail with no explanation), so she was alone. Sushila could not breastfeed baby Vishnu because she was quite malnourished, and the first time we saw her, she was crying because she had no way to feed her little baby.

Pallavi, Mom and Vishnu in 2006

We encouraged Sushila to work and not beg, to learn to make strands of jasmine flowers like the other women did, which brought them decent wages during flower season (May to September). At first, she could not bring herself to do much with her day, and watching over two kids was more than enough for her. She was illiterate, had managed to run away from a man who had "kept" her, and had little hope for a better life.

But Sushila slowly changed for the better. She learned to trust us, and we helped her and her husband find a house to rent. She then let us send little Pallavi to boarding school in 2007, and then take in Pallavi and Vishnu at Karunya Mane this year. During early 2007, she taught herself to make the strands of jasmine flowers and has become quite adept at it and at selling the strands during the season. Sushila is much healthier and happier these days than she was three years ago, grooms herself well, and earns her own money.

Sushila and husband visit Pallavi and Vishnu at Karunya Mane every month, and are quite proud that their kids are in a good school and are staying in a nice environment.