Vidya Shelke was one amongst the many who were rendered jobless during the nation-wide lockdown. She used to work for a ride-sharing company, but once travel and transport were banned during the lockdown, her services were rendered useless, and her employment suspended. With two children to feed and a household to run, Vidya decided to start a taxi service of her own.
Over the last two months, 28-year-old Vidya has helped over 150 people that were stranded in the city, return home.
Earning Income While Helping Out Others In Tough Situations
With train and bus services having been terminated, people have been scrambling to find ways to get home. Vidya had witnessed scores of elderly, ailing, disabled, and needy people struggle to get back to their village.
“It was immediately clear that people couldn’t return home without transport. I wanted to be a responsible citizen and yet earn a living. So, I put out a video offering to take people home,” Vidya told Mumbai Mirror.
Vidya charges just Rs 12 per km for one way. “I don’t overcharge and I also don’t charge for the return journey,” she says.
Not only ferrying people home herself, she also arranges e-passes for them if they need it, to Nashik, Pune, Aurangabad, Satara, Kolhapur, Nagpur, and Sangli.
She recounts an incident, when she was on her way back from dropping someone home at Nashik, and got a call from a woman requesting help. The woman’s husband had thrown her and her children out of the house, and they were stranded with nowhere to go. She wished to go to Mahalaxmi in Mumbai. Vidya picked them up, and ensured they reached their destination safely.
She has taken all the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of coronavirus through her service. She wears a mask, and ensures social distancing is maintained between passengers. “My social taxi service follows all norms of social distancing. The vehicle is sanitised and I am more than happy to help anyone in need,” she asserts.
She’s Ensuring Her Children Don’t Have To Give Up Their Education Like She Did
Born in a small village in Aurangabad, Vidya now lives with her husband and children in Mulund. Her husband drives a truck, and has a small business where he transports agricultural commodities from Nashik to Mumbai.
Vidya had to give up her education after the 10th grade, and is determined to ensure that her children can continue studying as long as they want to.
However, day to day expenses in a city like Mumbai are high, and she knew that paying for her children’s education would not be possible with just one earning member in the family. Over the years she did various jobs, learnt how to drive an auto-rickshaw, and then finally secured a job at the ride-sharing company.
“My husband works very hard. I wanted to support him and help fulfill the dreams of both our children,” she says.
Determined to not let the lockdown stand in the way of her children’s needs, while also doing her part to meet those of others, she started her social service taxi.
Women like Vidya have refused to let their years of empowerment and progress be pushed back into regression during the pandemic.
Do your part, even one small thing every day, to push yourself forward and help others. Retaining this kindness and strength, much like Vidya and her taxi, could take you places.
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