In an inspiring act, 35-year-old Ankita Shah has shown the society that when it comes to their parents’ health and well-being, daughters are no less. Not only fighting against the social norm but also against her disability, Ankita has turned became an auto-rickshaw driver to save her father from cancer.
Breaking societal norms, Ankita Shah has become Amdavad’s first specially-abled rickshaw-wali! This courageous woman has shunned a desk job as a call center executive to venture into a male-dominated profession of a rickshaw driver. To contribute money towards her ailing father’s cancer treatment, Anita is driving rickshaw for almost six months now.
Being a B.A. in Economics, life wasn’t easy for Ankita, who hails from a family with a modest background in Palitana. Being the eldest among five siblings, her right leg was amputated due to polio at an early age.
But society never accepted Ankita because of her disability. Rather, she faced social ostracization over her disability. Hence she moved to Ahmedabad in 2012 and began working at a call center.
“I used to barely make Rs 12,000 working a 12-hour shift at the call centre. Moreover, after my father was diagnosed with intestine cancer, I had to constantly shuttle between Ahmedabad and Surat for his treatment and getting frequent leaves was a problem. The income wasn’t enough. That’s when I decided to call it quits.”
Left with no other choice but to move to Surat, she struggled to find a job. Despite appearing for interviews at various private companies, Ankita could not get a job easily as her disability was cited as a concern by most employers. Recalling how guilty she felt about not being able to contribute to her father’s treatment, she shared with TOI:
“It wasn’t an easy time. Making ends meet was difficult and I was feeling all the more guilty because I couldn’t contribute anything for my father’s treatment. I finally decided to do something on my own.”
It was then that the idea of driving an autorickshaw struck her. But, this was both challenging as well as family wasn’t very excited about the idea. With not many options left, she was determined to take up this challenge as it would have improved her financial condition and would have made her equipped enough to pay for her father’s treatment while finding a work-life balance.
Sharing how she learned driving a rickshaw, she mentioned:
“I learnt driving a rickshaw from a friend – Lalji Barot – who is also physically challenged and drives a rickshaw. He not just taught me how to drive, but also helped me get a customized autorickshaw of my own – which has a hand-operated brake.”
Today, Ankita rides her rickshaw for seven to eight hours and makes up to Rs 20,000 every month. Counting her blessings, Ankita shared:
“It is much better because there is no work pressure. I can also visit my family and help with my dad’s treatment.”
At IFORHER, we are in awe of Ankita who hasn’t let her circumstances defeat her. The way she has beaten her disability shows how true courage looks like.
As Ankita plans to start her own taxi business in the future, we wish her all the best and hope many would seek inspiration from her!