This Women’s Day, Elanic reached out to Janodaya – an NGO with a special focus on women. Apart from gifting them clothes worth Rs 2.8 lakhs that the Elanic community donated, we had the honour of styling some of these gritty women and making them feel even more beautiful.

Here are some of their stories.

Lakshmi, 20

Every child’s parents love them. My story was different. I remember my mother burning my skin with a hot knife. At the age of 8, I ran away from home. Some people found me and promised me food but one of them tried to touch me - I ran away again.

I was always hungry; one day I saw a church distributing food. The Sisters there took me in and since then, life has been better.

After 10 years, I tried to find my family but nobody knew where they were. People said that my father abandoned them, that my mother burnt herself to death and that someone took away my brothers.

Still, I hope to meet them someday.

That was my past. I now work as an assistant to a cook. Someday I hope to have a home to call my own.

Sarita Parte, 21

My father, mother and sister mean the world to me. We had trouble at home as my father earned very less and I had to drop out of school. I now work as a hostel warden here at Bangalore to support my family.

My father’s brother has two sons. He has always taunted our family about not having a son. He said we would never be lucky enough to get married. He also warned my father that I’d go astray in this alien city but thankfully, my father trusted me not to. My mother gets depressed because of our sneering relatives. I am tired, too.

Back in my village we have a thatched-roof hut. I send money home to convert it into a brick house. I work during the day and prepare for entrance exams in the evenings.

I just want to show people that girls are no less than boys.

Pushpa Bai, 36

My childhood was hard. There were 9 of us including my father who passed away when I was 20, and a blind mother. We had one brother who earned money, only to spend it all on alcohol.

I wanted to work and take care of my sisters, one of whom was handicapped. I was married off by the village panchayat against my will to an unknown man. He was abusive and self-centered. When I was pregnant with my second child, he told me he’d marry a younger girl. He asked me to drink poison and kill myself.

But I was determined to raise my babies. Soon, he deserted us and I was left to fend for myself and my children. I now work as a household help.

My husband abandoned me. But I won’t abandon my children.

Kishori Puta, 30

Getting schooled was a battle for me. My brother was educated in spite of our poverty. I fought with my father when my brother left us after getting a job. If he’d educated me instead, I’d have been able to support our family better.

Nobody should have to struggle like I did in my childhood. I passed my exams by only listening to lectures - I never had text books. I wanted to do graduation but I had no money for it. I then started working as a tailor at my village. I hate seeing my old father work so hard just to earn Rs 50 a day. Now I work as a caretaker at a hostel to support our family. I send half my salary home.

My father is now proud of me. He says, “You are my son.”

I cry sometimes in private when I’m anxious but then I think, “What use is it, getting tense? How will I think or work if I worry so much?

In the future, I want to do my own thing. Shuru karenge to ho jayega. Kuch bhi kar lenge.

While anyone less tough may easily have given up, these women have overcome enormous challenges to be where they are today. They are a powerful reminder of how fierce determination can beat even the darkest of situations. We take our hats off to them.