"People either think of social workers as 'belanwaalis', 'jholawaalis' or highfalutin socialites. In India, there is this strange perception that social work is not an academic pursuit. Many believe that it is something one does in their forties and only as charity, not as a mainstream job. Engineering and medical studies are the fields for a bright future. Even I wanted to be an engineer when I was in Class 11. But a series of events turned me from an engineer into a social worker.
I graduated and got a job offer but my joining date was yet to come. I had a lot of time on my hands, so I started to teach children living in the slums. I continued teaching even after I joined the IT firm. After a year and a half, I realised that social work was my true calling. I wanted to acquire a comprehensive theoretical understanding of this field. This inspired me to pursue a Masters in social work.
My work took me to the grassroots of Kerala, Orissa and Jharkhand. I worked with women engaged in anganwadis or midwives scheme for a pittance, just because they were good causes. I discovered that there was a lot that I could learn from them. Even though they lived with limited resources, they did not hesitate to open their houses to me. They wanted to protect me because I was staying away from family. This was a new experience for a metro-bred girl.
Most of us living in bigger cities connect independence with exposure. A lot of times, we tend to focus on the weaknesses, but we do not see the strengths. I found these women were strong and caring at the same time. Their burning desire to effect a change in society was inspiring. I had to keep my eyes and ears open to learn from these folks.
I would have been deprived of these real-life teachings, had I continued on the customary career path. "