This is the story of Swathi, a 45-year-old woman, who kicked Polio in the face, the disease that got her disabled since birth.
Swathi, a woman from Warangal, Andhra Pradesh, has been suffering from Polio since birth. Born in a middle-class family, she graduated in Commerce and post-graduated in Carnatic Vocal from Telugu University.
Contrary to her own kin who grew up in a concrete jungle in Hyderabad, Swathi lived a life surrounded by nature and serenity. As she got introduced to the beauty of nature, she also learnt the harsh realities of life a young age. A desire to do her bit for the society and environment came up at this point but could not materialise owing to her family’s financial condition.
Swathi, with the help of her children, now runs an eco-friendly small business of making homemade Ganesha idols with clay and selling them in the form of a package, before Ganesh Chaturthi. This package is priced at Rs 750 and it comes with all the raw material, preparation material, and food offering (prasad) needed to worship the deity. Hyderabad is famous for celebrating Ganesh Chaturthi in all its grandeur, similar to the celebrations in Mumbai. The famous idol immersion happens in the lake Hussain Sagar of the city.
Swathi started this initiative last year itself when she distributed clay idols and packages to her friends and relatives. Thanks to the positive response, she decided to turn it into a mainstream business. As part of a CSR initiative, HSBC campus in Hyderabad and few other gated communities in the city allowed Swathi and company to showcase the idols for which the humble group got a good feedback.
Swathi had been preparing for the mega festival one month before. She says she was confident about her idea and her product but had little support in the form of volunteers to facilitate sales and distribution. Usually in households, people end up forgetting something or the other required for the pooja; her idea was to make it simpler for the families with the entire package coming to them at one go.
Talking about her future plans, Swathi said,
“In the next five years, I want to provide employment to 50 people. I am 45 years old now and disabled people like me lose stamina and energy as age catches up. I want them to be self-sustainable and have at least a few lakhs of rupees as their bank balance when they are in their forties.
I am a very optimistic person. I don’t breathe any negative air. Hope and a strong willpower to help people is what keeps me going.”