I met Sonali in her modest home one evening at dusk. Her home is made of simple natural materials and whatever scrapes could be found and has a single bed. She does have electricity, meaning there is a fan that provides some relief from the monsoon season humidity.
Living in this 12 foot by 6 foot shack with Sonali, are 6 other adults and Sonali’s three children. She and her husband live with her parents-in-law, two brothers-in-law and a new wife of one of the brothers-in-law. The thought of seven adults and three children living in this small room was something I just couldn’t get my head around, especially this time of year when her house is bound to flood with the heavy rains.
While there are 7 adults, having a steady income is hard to find. Her husband works at a warehouse and makes 1000 Rupees a month (approx. $25USD), her father-in-law is a rickshaw driver, and her new sister-in-law works part time at a local tailor shop. The combined income is barely enough to make it from day to day and doesn’t leave extra for emergency savings.
Two years ago Sonali was given a gift that came with a large financial burden. Sonali had started the tailoring course at ConneXions when she found out that she was pregnant for the second time. Having to look after a newborn would mean that she would have to leave the course but planned on starting again after a few years. Sonali then had premature twins. When I meet the twins I thought they were maybe 12 or 13 months old. When I inquired about their age, I was shocked to learn that they were actually 22 months old. I came to learn of the hardships that the twins experienced so early in life. They had to be hospitalized many times and treated for various illnesses including Tuberculosis.
Sonali had them treated at a country hospital outside of the city to keep down medical costs even so outrageous hospital bill accumulated. She currently can’t even afford to buy all the recommended treatments for her children. But she has found some financial relief in sewing blankets for ConneXions. Being able to work at home means that she can still look after her children and do the various household responsibilities that she has.
She hopes to continue making blankets for ConneXions. She hopes that her husband can eventually make more and between the two salaries they can move into a home of their own and be able to provide a good education for her children and that her son can eventually obtain a good job. Sonali is a woman who has discovered much hardship but is filled with so much hope. I was personally pained by the stories she told me but I was also encouraged to hear of so much hope.
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