Rs 15k for a Grad Turned Street Vendor via FB
Shanthi, a graduate in English literature, is now a street vendor outside Nalli in Adyar. When Gayathri Nandakumar heard her speak in flawless English, she decided to help Shanthi by posting her story on Facebook. So far, she has raised more than Rs.15,000. This is their story...
CHENNAI: When Gayathri Nandakumar was stepping out of Nalli showroom in Adyar, she heard a woman speaking flawless English. “I was suprised to see it was a street vendor. Though I did not see her first, now I am glad I did,” she says looking fondly at 53-year-old Shanthi Rajasekar (sitting her in photo), an English literature graduate who sells incense sticks for a living.
With a bleak smile, Shanthi narrates her story. “My husband passed away three years ago and my life has been hard since. But, reality hit me only a year back, after I lost my father,” she says tearfully. Shanthi sells incense in different parts of the city to repay debts and save money to treat her 31-year-old daughter, who is diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
“We did not recognise the problem at an early stage. After her grandfather passed away, she was in shock. Financial and personal turbulence made her sick. When I finally took her to the hospital, she was in the last stage of hypothyroidism. She has huge rock sized boils on her leg and is unable to do anything now,” she shares.
Her daughter finished M Com with very high marks, she says proudly. “She wanted to pursue MBA, but by then, we had hit rockbottom financially; she also fell sick,” adds Shanthi.
Gayathri was so overwhelmed by her story that she posted it on Chennai Shopping — a group on Facebook. “I just knew her hardships were genuine and I wanted to help her. I posted her story , along withe her number on Facebook, and the response in the last two days has been great!” smiles Gayathri.
Carrying bags of scans and medical prescriptions for her ailing daughter, Shanthi says, “I work from morning to night and my daughter stays alone. We used to be well off, but today we live in a house with Rs 5,000 rent, which itself is difficult for me to pay at times.”
She earns a meager Rs 300-500 everyday by selling incense sticks. “Even if I sell incense worth Rs 3,000, I get paid only Rs 500. Sometimes I get Rs 200 extra,” she goes on, “But, you know what? There is a happiness in all this struggle. I am earning by myself to help my daughter — I’m not dependent on anyone. She is proud of me. That’s all I want,” she smiles.
Her face brightens when we ask her about the help she has received through Gayathri. “Who is this girl? Why should she help me? But she did. I have received Rs 15,000 from the city and as far as Kerala and even New Jersey,” she shares.
She is usually seen outside Pazhamuthir Cholai, Sangeetha Hotel, Spencer’s and Nalli Adyar. “In the beginning, I was not allowed to sell in front of some of these stores. But after seeing my communication skills and my customers, they gradually became okay with it. I have customers from different parts of the city who come all the way to buy my products for the quality,” she points out.
Seeing Gayathri’s FB post, a lot of people have reached out to Shanthi. But, she rues that most of the money is being spent on settling her debts rather than her daughter’s treatment. “Even if we could pool in money for a fixed deposit and financially back her up till her daughter recovers, it could reduce her burden,” suggests Gayathri, who plans to help Shanthi by setting up a small English training center. “Her English is great and she is ready to work hard. This could give her a constant income, but we are reconsidering options and suggestions from other people as well.”
Shanthi has only one wish: “My daughter must recover and follow her dreams. If she is settled down and has a good job, I will be happy,” she says. You can reach Gayathri at 72990 23000