(New Delhi) “I have been working in the development sector for 19 years with marginalized section of the society including women, children and disabled people. I am a trained social worker and a lawyer and fighting for the rights of others is my passion. I cannot tolerate injustice being done to anyone including me. I believe if I cannot fight for my own rights, I will never be able to fight for others. This spirit keeps me moving and sometimes makes me angry in situations beyond my control. I wish I was a much calmer person but at the same time I would also never want the fire inside me to die. My parents are my strength, coming from a Muslim family and unlike rudimentary belief, they gave me a lot of freedom to choose and decide what I wanted. I am an independent woman and it’s because of them.

My two pets Bebo and Sultan are love of my life and my life would be meaningless without them. I have learnt to be always happy with small things in life and to forget all the sorrows that life keeps throwing. I receive unconditional and eternal love from them. I believe they are going to meet me after this life also to stay together ever after.” 
(New Delhi) “I am a beautician. I have been working for the last 18 years. When I was very young, my mother arranged for some money so that I could learn the work at a local beauty salon. My skills improved and I started getting my own clients. 
At the age of 16, I fell in love and got married against everyones’ wishes. One day when my husband was not home, my in-laws threw me out of the house because they were unhappy that they did not get any dowry. I literally had to live on the street at that time as my parents had severed all ties with me. My father never spoke to me after my marriage, and for many years, he forbade everyone in the family to talk to me. When I left my in-laws’ house, I had nothing with me at all. There was no way to get in touch with my husband as during those days there were no mobile phones. I felt I had only two options: die or work. I chose to work. 
During that time, I would spend the days working, and at night, sleep at a client’s place. I started looking for a place to live but nobody wanted to rent a flat to a young girl. So I had to tell landlords that my husband was out of town temporarily and would join me later. Somehow, I finally found a place to stay.
One-and-a half months later, my husband and I found each other. We started living in the rented accommodation and very soon I conceived. My husband never helped me financially as he gave all his earnings to his parents. I had to work till the day before delivery of the baby because I needed money for the baby too. I had to start working again after only 6 days from the delivery. After all these years I am still independent running my household with my own income. I have also been able to build my house with my own savings.
I really enjoy my work. All my clients are good people. They recommended me to one another and I built a long list of clients. I enrolled myself to learn make-up and other beauty courses from one of the best institutes in India, while I was still working full-time. I have not stopped learning new techniques.
A few years ago I found out that a couple, a distant relative, died in an accident. None of their relatives wanted to keep the couples’ children. At the time, the daughter was 11 years old, and the son was 4 years old. So I brought them home and got them admitted into good schools. My youngest son doesn’t know that he is not my biological child. They have been living with me for 4-5 years. Now things have finally settled down for me. My children are very supportive. They all are a bit naughty but that’s all fun.
I started with Rs. 300 as my first pay and I didn’t even own a needle. My in-laws, who now live with me, are dependent on me. They know that I have raised my family and built a home single-handedly. My father (he is no more now) never spoke to me after my wedding but it always lifts my spirits when people tell me that my father always praised me in front of other people. He used to tell them that I was his the most hard-working child and that I bought a house with my own hard-earned money.”