Pushpa DishaNearly 17 years ago, when Pushpa Saini moved to Mahendragarh, Haryana from her native Mandawar in Rajasthan, she carried in her heart all the usual hopes and dreams that a newly-wed in rural India nurtures. Today, as we sit in her tiny but copious shop-cum-beauty parlour located besides the Sainipura main road, it is not hard to tell that the 36-year-old has achieved much beyond her hopes, and that too, despite her marriage.

“It has been about ten years since he left me here,” says an almost stoic Pushpa.

“Only when one is left to their own devices do we find the honest courage to achieve what we aim for,” is her next sentence, spoken almost as an afterthought.

The marriage was troubled from the very beginning. Soon after her husband left her and moved to his native Rajasthan, Pushpa found herself completely alone trying to bring up a young son. Although skilled as a beautician, circumstances and lack of resources brought this young mother on the verge of destitution and she started working as a housemaid in her landlord’s house, trying to earn a little money for survival.

It was under these circumstances that Pushpa was informed by a friend about UNDP’s DISHA project, being implemented by HPPI in this region of Haryana.

“On the first day, I attended an information session on the benefits of setting up own business. This was followed by a three-day Start-up Training covering all the fundamental aspects of running a business successfully. It was only after this training session that I saw a ray of hope for myself and my son,” she recalls.

Propelled by this ray of hope, a few days after the training session was over, Pushpa, with assistance of some her friends, decided to set up a small shop for women garments along with a beauty parlour.

“The training sessions were very helpful. It informed me about all the aspects of budgeting, presentation of goods, marketing and customer service. I will always be thankful to the DISHA project for what it has offered me,” she says.

Pushpa Disha1

Three months after starting the shop, today, after paying a rental of two thousand rupees per month for the shop, Pushpa on average saves about ten thousand rupees every month. Beyond sustenance, now she is confident of sending his son to a good engineering college.

When asked about her suggestions for other women who want to pursue their dreams and start their own business, Pushpa is quick to answer: “Confidence and self-belief is the key. Women should know that in today’s world, self-reliance is must. Start small, but dream big.”

And the small shop is but an indication that this big dreamer has only just begun her journey.

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About HPPI

Humana People to People India is a development organization registered as a not-for-profit company under section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956 as of 21st May 1998. It is a non-political, non-religious organization. Its mission is to unite with people in India in order to create development in the broadest sense through the implementation of the projects that aim at transferring knowledge, skills and capacity to individuals and communities who need assistance to come out of poverty and other dehumanizing conditions.

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