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I am Rekha, a native of Hunsur village in Mysore district, where I completed my studies till 10th grade. I got married in 2005 and am now living with my husband and two sons.
I started working at a leading apparel factory in 2006. While working at the factory, I got selected as a training instructor in 2009. The factory approached me earlier for a supervisor’s role, but I declined, as the role required me to talk rudely to other workers. After a short while, I got selected as a trainer. While I was working as a training instructor, I was selected for the Gender Empowerment training conducted by Swasti.
Since 2006, Swasti has been partnering with factories to achieve worker well-being by influencing policies and implementing interventions focused on workers’ development.
In the meantime, I had shifted to another garment factory. While working at the new factory, the HR informed me about the Foundational and Advanced training, which is a three-day outstation training conducted by Swasti. After this training, I was selected as ToT (Trainer of Trainers). I was apprehensive at first as I was not well versed in a lot of topics that I had to train, but through the training, I was able to learn and become self-confident.
I had to train other workers on everything I learnt at the training. My co-workers told me that I was very strict earlier, and compared me to an army officer. But after the training, I was more friendly and approachable”. I was overjoyed with all the feedback I was receiving.
During the training, I was initially very hesitant to speak or discuss topics like reproductive health in public, but we were told (by trainers at Swasti) to not be ashamed as it was very important for us to be trained on this topic and to train other workers as well.
Earlier, we knew of only ‘chit funds’ as a saving method. But through the training, we were told about the importance of opening a bank account and financial savings. Even I opened an account, but over the last year due to the pandemic and financial difficulties, I was not able to save regularly.
After the training, through the welfare officer, we applied for scholarships for our children as well. I have continued to share information on social protection schemes with other workers.
Ever since the pandemic, my husband lost his full-time job, now he does a lot of odd jobs to meet the family expenses. I had to search for other job opportunities that would help support my family financially during this time. The training by Swasti helped me a lot while preparing for the interviews. The interview panel was also very pleased with how I have attended multiple trainings conducted by Swasti. Now I have joined as a Training Teacher at one of the leading apparel factories in Bangalore.
I always dreamt of becoming a teacher. I want to be a training officer in the next five years at least. One of my seniors travels to other states to train women workers in different languages and I want to do that in the future. I would also like to open a training institute in the future, and train women workers. I want to be able to provide them with government recognised certificates. I have all these dreams but do not have enough financial savings to fulfil them as of now.
Edited by Anju Narayanan
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