Life is a struggle that demands to be felt, to be endured and to be lived. If it is met with equal enthusiasm and resilience it is a joy to behold. Our VCT staff member at Anand Sankara Eye Hospital is one such life, and her journey at Sankara will warm your heart. Sumitra Parmar is the eldest among five siblings and hails from Verakuva village in Kheda District. Her father, a farmer, is the breadwinner of the family. After completing her primary schooling from the village itself, she travelled 8 km to complete her further schooling till 12th standard. A bright, brave, responsible and education oriented girl, she was keen on studying science and sharing her father’s burden, but life had other plans. She had to quit B.Sc. in first year itself as education of younger siblings and household responsibilities beckoned. Soon she got married and moved to Chikhodara in Anand District.
Sumitra’s mother in law worked for SEWA- an organisation attached to Sankara ever since its inception in 2008. Through SEWA, her mother in-law came to know and told her that Sankara Eye Hospital is opening their new hospital in Anand and is seeking local staff to work there. She applied for the VCT course and was interviewed at SEWA. The course promised education and training, employment after completion of the course and monthly stipend as well. It was a dream that became true for Sumitra who was determined to study and do something in her life. With her family’s support she came to Coimbatore for the course. Her journey at Sankara had just begun.
At Sankara, she was rotated in different departments, such as admission and discharge and camp wards. She fondly recollects the homely atmosphere at Coimbatore, “I had 40 other girls who were with me. We learnt Tamil so that we could communicate with patients. Our classes were taken in Hindi by doctors as English was a little difficult for us to understand but I worked hard and I improved my English. I enjoyed staying there and they trained us in such a way that we can work independently in Anand. I appreciate the respect they gave to cultural diversity. We were even given the opportunity to celebrate our biggest festival Navratri, at Coimbatore.”
After returning to Anand, she was recruited for the camp ward department. She was all enthusiasm and dedication and soon was even appointed as a team leader in outreach department but situation at home wasn’t easy. Maintaining work and family life was tough enough as it is and three years later when she gave birth to a girl child she was mentally harassed by her in laws who expected a male child. Few months ago her younger sister in law passed away due to heart attack and she took up the responsibility of looking after her two children. Now she was a mother of 4.
Sumitra says, “During my both the pregnancies, Sankara eye hospital has looked after my needs very well. I went for maternity leave and after coming back, I got new opportunities in the hospital.” Being the determined person that she was, she soldiered on and gradually progressed to the paying ward. She also worked in the RSBY department for few months. In August 2013 she started training for TPA department. She took deep interest in learning about TPA as it was totally new to her. Currently she communicates with TPA members by mail and over phone in English. Sumitra signs off saying “I am very happy working in Sankara. I’ve learnt so many things. I’ll always be grateful to Sankara Eye Hospital for giving me a job, knowledge, skills, and basically an opportunity to develop myself. It has changed my life. I am also grateful to Dr.Radha madam and Subbarao sir who has always encouraged me and guided me.”