“In situations like these, it’s important to help each other. We can truly overcome such adversity only as a community. By offering my services, I became a responsible citizen by doing my duty, as well as earning some money.”, said Vidya who lost her job.
Vidya was passionate about driving since she was a child and learnt how to drive at a very young age. Her husband Anil runs a small business of transporting good but supporting the entire family single-handedly is a challenge in Mumabi, which is the reason she started her profession as an autorickshaw driver. Her passion made her go ahead with the job as a driver to support her family in a better way in a place like Mumbai. However, continuing the job as an autorikshaw driver was quite a problem especially with regards to security, and therefore decided to shift. Her work was a constant source of joy to her but things went south when the COVID-19 lockdown was announced. Like many others in the country, Vidya too, lost her job.
From Adversity to Opportunity
Losing her job meant that they would now earn half the amount they were which was laregly spent on children. It was quite a hit for them, but they were not ready to back down. Vidya wanted to turn this adversity into an opportunity for the people in need, her family and herself. She decided to help people, who were stranded due to the lockdown to reach their homes safely by charging minimal money for that. She started this service on March 28, and has helped almost 200 people so far.
With the train and bus services shutting down, many were struggling to travel back to their homes. She realised the gravity of the situation and decided to do something about it. Her husband already had a car that she was using on the job, so she took it out, shot a video message announcing her services to those who needed it, and circulated it on social media. In a matter of 10 minutes, Vidya began to get calls for pickups. From senior citizens, pregnant women to families from migrant labourers, the cab driver helped them all, and drove to the farthest corners of Maharashtra to get them home. This shows us the correct use of social media in these tough times.
One of the passengers has shared how her service helped him when he thought there was no way out. “I am deeply grateful to Vidya for helping out when there was no option available. My wife and I would be stuck in Mumbai if it wasn’t for her. She not only dropped us to our village in Jalna, but also helped make the e-passes. Additionally, she did all of this while also following all the safety protocols”, says Sunil Sadam, who was working as a daily wage worker in Mumbai.
Since she’s a mother and a wife who has to back to her family, she has to be careful of the virus. She adhered to the safety guidelines and made it mandatory to wear masks inside the cab and carried a bottle of sanitizer and extra masks for those who did not have them. Also, she would only take two passengers, except children, in the back seat of her car. No one was allowed to sit in the front seat, owing to the norms of social distancing.
Helping Hand in times of Need
Vidya charges only Rs 12 per km, one way for the journey, and also provides a return journey, if required, for free. She has also helped arrange for e-passes for her passengers. She has shared a story which has made her realise the importance of her service.
She says, “There was a pregnant lady who approached me for a 160-km-long ride back home to Junnar. She was alone and did not have enough money to afford the travel, but was in a critical state, awaiting delivery any day. The municipal hospital had turned her away due to lack of vacancy, and she couldn’t afford any other hospital. So I managed to quickly make her an e-pass and started the journey. We were only some 10 kilometers away from her house, when the authorities at the checkpost denied entry to her, despite having all the documents right. Thanks to the help of another samaritan, a truck driver transporting agricultural goods, I managed to board and send her home after taking extraordinary measures. That is one incident I can never forget.”
We can call Vidya the true hero of humanity, who goes the extra mile to make the lives of others better and also manage to support themselves. She a true example of an individual who is fulfillng the ISR. You can support Vidya or reach out for help, by getting in touch with her at: 7900071050.