This is the stuff that dreams are made of, this is the stuff you expect to see in Bollywood films. No this is not what you expect to see in real life! The story of Jyothi Reddy is not just another rags-to-riches story. It is a story that shows how grit and determination can overcome the meanest of obstacles and direst of situations in life.
Jyothi Reddy was working as a farm labourer, earning Rs.5 per day, less than 2 decades ago. But today she heads a successful recruitment company in USA which records a turnover of $5 million anually.
One would be tempted to think that the Gods have been kind to this lady, but the truth is completely on the contrary. Jyothi Reddy was not an orphan, yet she spent her childhood in an orphanage. When her father lost his job as a teacher, the family struggled to manage 3 square meals a day, and the parents decided to give up their two daughters while keeping their son with them. The daughters were packed off to an orphanage in South India. Jyothi's sister ran back to the family house, but Jyothi stayed on at the orphanage and decided to make the best of what she had. In her words, "When I lived with orphans I knew the pain of life,” Jyothi, 42, says in a telephonic conversation from the US. It was a hard life, sleeping on floors without blankets and eating meagre meals. “I wanted someone to hold me, share my feelings when I did well at school or felt sad. Those hard feelings stayed with me. I needed my mother when I was in pain. The worst part was I had to pretend she was dead."
Jyothi attended a goverment school and also took up a vocational course while she was at the orphanage. From a very young age, Jyothi realised the importance of education and financial independence for women. But her dreams were cut short when her parents married her off to a cousin when she turned 16. Her cousin was jobless at the time, so it only meant another life of misery, unless she did something about it. Initially Jyothi worked as a farm labourer to make some money for bringing up her 2 daughters.
The turning point in Jyothi's life came when she heard about the Nehru Yuva Kendra and decided to volunteer at the Kendra. Soon after she took up teaching. Jyothi worked hard in the day and stitched petticoats in the night to make a few extra bucks. Side by side, she also furthered her education, finishing her graduation first and then also post-graduating. After this, Jyothi got a Special Teacher''s job at a school which was 2 hours away from her house. Jyothi used those 2 hours to sell saris in the train and make a little extra money every day!
Soon she was appointed the Girl Development Officer in her area and bagged a plum salary of Rs. 18000 per month. But she still hungered for more. Opportunity presented itself when a relative visited from USA, sparking off a fire of interest and ambition in this young mother of two. Jyothi trained in computers and went off to USA to try her luck there.
In USA Jyothi started off with working at gas stations and cleaning bathrooms in motels. Soon she was offered a job at a recruitment company and her life took off. It was when she found herself cleaning bathrooms again, due to the lack of another job, that Jyothi decided to start her own recruitment business. The first office was opened in Phoenix in 2001 and Jyothi has not looked back since. Jyothi's story is an example of how every situation can turn in your favour, if only you really want it to and try had for it to do so! Jyothi is a real life hero, and an inspiration to all the women in India who dream of a better life for themselves.