She had nowhere to go when she was widowed at the age of 20. She was a mother of two. It was five years ago when Sifiya Haneef had started her life from scratch at Bangalore. She pursued her studies from where she left. She went back to school! An, now she is a B.Ed. graduate. She has also completed her Masters in Social Work, a diploma in Public Administration and is now going to pursue a Masters in Literature. Apart from her studies, she gives motivational lectures and conducts tuition classes. She has her own facebook page to find help millions of people who are in need. Today, she helps 100 families meet their monthly expenses 8 widows with the pension, seven others with their education.
Sifiya, a woman from Kerala who had received the Neerja Bhanot Award (in recognition of all the work she has been doing) shared her story. Looking back at her life, it was not all easy. She was married at the age of 16. Years. After marriage, Sifiya and her husband lived in Bangalore for some time, where she made few friends. But years later, her husband died, leaving her alone. Her friends couldn’t help her when she was in trouble.
She literally had no one by her side. But then, she had one hope in the form of a lady, whom she fondly calls as ‘Pati’. It was the Pati, who had given shelter and helped out Sifiya and her kids. Back then, Sifiya took up part-time jobs like working in call-centres to pay up for her educational fee. She used to leave her kids at an orphanage, where they spend time from morning to evening. Later, in the night, Sifiya and her kids stay at Pati’s house. In the midst of all this, she didn’t give up on her career.
“The support I got from the Facebook page became a huge motivation for me,” says Sifiya, who gets monetary help from various people through the page. She began finding more families who needed support – families of children with disabilities and mothers having to leave them home while they went to work. Also, at times, due to accidents, a person who is a source of income of the family become confined to bed, Sifya hears out them and provides them the most needed help. “I have now learned to drive a four-wheeler, too; so I use that to take materials to the families,” Sifiya says.
“Back then I was not forced to get married. That’s been the practice in our community, all my friends were getting married at a young age. I didn’t know that it was important to get an education; neither did my parents who thought they were doing me good by getting me married,” Sifiya says. thus, In her motivational classes, she emphasizes about the importance of education. “Only through a job can you have your identity. Earlier, I never made decisions of my own; now, I make decisions at my home,” she says. “Once women are widowed, they are expected to sit at home and take care of the children, and not have a life of their own. But wouldn’t you want someone to listen to your joys and sorrows?” Sifiya asks.
News amd Photo Courtesy: The News Minute