An agricultural labourer from Warangal is today the CEO of a multi-million dollar software company in the US. Jyothi Reddy recounts her inspiring journey
A painful and short-lived childhood
Jyothi lost her mother at a young age. Thereafter her father lost his job in the military during the Emergency, and placed her in an orphanage.
Owing to her poor background, her family got her married early. By the tender age of 18, she was a mother to two daughters. From 1986 – 1989, she worked as a labourer in the fields for 5 Rs. a day.
A young mother’s struggle for her daughters
Incidentally the opening of a night school ended her labourer’s hardship. Since she was the only educated woman in her village, she was hired as an educational trainer for 150 Rs. a month.
"At that time 150 Rs. meant a lot to me. I could buy milk and fruits for my kids," Reddy says.
Working in the education sector, she realized the importance of education and went on to pursue graduation and post-graduation. With a B.ED degree, she started working as a government teacher, much to the disapproval of her husband.
After working laboriously on many odd jobs, a chance meeting with a cousin from US stirred up dreams in her for her children. She worked hard to save up money for a passport and visa, and learnt how to use computers. After six rejected attempts, she finally procured a visiting visa and flew out to the US in 2000.
Jyothi Reddy in the Red Saree - back in 1990, when she was earning about 150 Rs. a month.
Turning her life around – United States
Working alone in an alien country, after years of juggling between jobs and saving every penny, she managed to get her US visa sorted. Eventually she started her own IT company despite the challenges and the turnover of her company reportedly stands at $5 million today.
Her daughters are engineering graduates and both are married and settled in the US.
1986 with Fear and Confusion...2012 with Courage and Confidence.
Giving back ten-fold to her homeland
Perhaps through philanthropy she found a way to give back to her homeland. She is not just an inspiration to the people back in her village, she is their guardian angel.
Reddy has given much more to the society than what they could give her. Sponsoring orphanages, old age homes, homes for the mentally challenged, supporting education of children in downtrodden villages and also sponsoring many weddings among the poor have fast turned her into the people's saviour.
Revisiting her elders - singing and rejoicing with those that taught her how to work in the fields in Mailaram, Andhra Pradesh.
100 birthdays with Reddy
"I have dedicated my birthday for the orphan girl child in India. Every year I celebrate almost a 100 kids' birthdays on my birthday – and buy new clothes and cakes to each individual in my village".
Offering Solace to Women
The hard life a woman endures in India may be close to her heart. Perhaps that is the reason she has worked closely with women and enabled them to stand on their own feet. "I have travelled across rural areas in Andhra Pradesh and worked with women's groups on education and employment. I want to enable women to face problems from society and want to show them how to live independently."
She worries that many women in rural villages are dependent on their parents or husbands. She is currently formulating an intensive programme that will train women between the ages of 18-35 years on various employable skills that will provide an opportunity for them to work.
Women should Vote!
On a closing note, she stresses that women should take part in elections by casting their votes. She says: "Politics affects us, be it any sphere of our lives. Women are treated as secondary in society and many problems arise. We can change that slowly – we have to recognise that as women, it is very important to take an active role in elections."
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