Unleashing Dayamani’s Abilities

Dayamani rises to speak at a meeting in her hometown of Secunderabad. With enthusiasm and confidence, she informs the others about government loans available for people with disabilities. This is a cause that is very personal to her. As a child, she suffered from polio. Only after lengthy treatment and arduous physical therapy was she able to walk again. Just a slight limp betrays her battle with the disease that almost left her paralyzed.

In the ninth grade, her family forced her to drop out of school and get married. Being a female—and one with a disability no less—she did not, her family felt, need an education. And better to marry her off sooner than later—before she gets too old. Such was, and still is, the prevailing attitude of her community.

She soon found herself married to Jayaraj, a daily wage laborer. Before long, the couple had two daughters, Lahari and Prerana. Her education became a distant memory—something she would dream about returning to from time to time.

Then, one day, there was a knock on her door. A Pratham mobilizer stood before her. She told Dayamani about the Second Chance program nearby. Jayaraj disapproved. Dayamani decided to enroll anyway—the first from her community to do so.

Each day, after sending her children to school and completing her household work, she eagerly hurried off to class. At first, she struggled, but she worked hard to make up for the many years of absence from school. Her dedication even managed to impress Jayaraj as she completed the program with passing grades just before the COVID-19 lockdown.

Dayamani wants to continue her studies and become an Anganwadi worker. She is currently running as an independent candidate in her community’s municipal elections and serves as a leader in the local society for people with disabilities. More importantly, she is a role model for others like her.

When asked about her experience with Pratham, she answers without hesitation: “Second Chance made me forget my disability.”

Learn more about Pratham’s Second Chance program.

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