Severina cannot hear and finds it difficult to communicate through speaking. As a child, she was only able to study until 6th grade. Many girls in her situation would have been dependent on their families, at most doing some menial work for little pay. But Severina became her family’s mainstay.
Severina’s father was a tailor, and she thought that this was something she could do. She enrolled in a two-year tailoring course and after completing it she got a job with Ghar Udyog, one of the artisan cooperatives in the MarketPlace family. When GU moved to a different location, she went to work with another group, Nirman, and has been there ever since, a total of over 25 years.
For many years Severina has supported her family. Her mother passed away in 2007 and her elderly father died last year. Her brother is mentally disabled and blind and is cared for at home. When Severina goes to work, her married sister comes to look after their brother. Because her sister cannot then work for pay, Severina is responsible for her, too. There is another brother who works abroad, but he does not contribute to the family in any way. Thus it is up to Severina to carry the load.
Working as a tailor in the cooperative, Severina earns between 7000 and 8000 rupees a month. Out of this she spends 5000 on household expenses and is able to put the remainder into savings. She is grateful that the artisan groups welcomed her despite her disabilities as she believes that her lack of verbal communication skills would have prevented her from being hired anywhere else. Her fellow artisans accept her totally and do not think of her as “handicapped.” They understand her sign language and work goes smoothly. They recognize that Severina is very good at her work and is notably precise and careful in all aspects. Because of this, she has often been requested to work on the quality control task force, checking finished products for any flaws. The cooperatives and MarketPlace are like a second family for her, one where she is loved and respected. She enjoys using her mobile phone to message and share pictures with her friends at the cooperatives and MarketPlace. With her determination and hard work, she has overcome many obstacles to live a fulfilling life.