‘Believe it … achieve it’, is the way I think about my life and work daily.
I am Ashwini Shivekar, a 26 years old OYA’s ‘Belie-Chiever’. Today I am glad, that I got this opportunity to write about my life, thanks to the OYA Foundation. This is a ‘wow moment’ and ‘a dream come true’ for me, not just because I would like my story to be told and heard, but because I would like to inspire every girl with my story and want them to go achieve their dreams.
I belong to a lower middle class family. My mother worked as a household maid and currently my father is an auto-rickshaw driver. I have two siblings. I completed my schooling from a BMC school (vernacular medium). I used to get a scholarship for my education from an NGO. I have been able to complete my education through scholarships alone as we faced financial difficulties. My mother was the only earning member of my family for a long time and my father stayed in the village for farming. My mother carried out all the financial responsibilities towards me and my siblings single-handedly. My mother came from a small village and could not complete her education. She could only study till the 3rd grade and got married at a very young age, after which her life has just been a series of constant struggles- Struggles for fulfilling the responsibilities of her family, for taking care of her children single-handedly, for attaining her rights, for almost everything. What got her through all her struggles was a strong desire to help her children complete their education and make them capable individuals who could achieve anything they dream of in life.
Very often, you find the young generation looking up to an actor or a sportsperson as their idol in life. However, my idols have been the heroes in my real life rather than the ‘reel life’. The first one to play that role in my life has been my mother. My mother has always been my biggest source of motivation. She always teaches me to think big and motivate myself to win. The number of things she has done for me and my siblings are immeasurable. I remember, accompanying my mother to her work along with my siblings when I was about 9 -10 years old. She would clean utensils, wash clothes and cook food for other people at the same time have us around at work and look after us as it was out of question for her to leave us alone at home where we lived. I never felt ashamed of the work my mother did. She always taught us that no work was inferior or superior and that one must have love and respect towards their work. If one wants to survive in this competitive world, then one has to work hard and there are no shortcuts to success.
I was a bright student throughout my school and college. I worked hard and did well at school despite all obstacles. Complaining was never an option. As hard work always pays off, I always found help through scholarships to continue my studies. Throughout my schooling years, I took part in many cultural activities and social activities. I was always excited about my hobbies of dancing, singing, acting, and anchoring. The turning point of my life was when I changed my school in the 7th grade. I attended after-school classes, where I met with my second Idol and my role model- Raheen JJ- my didi, my teacher and my mentor. She came into my life like an Angel who helped me achieve every dream I ever dreamt of in my life. Some people come into your life as blessings and she has definitely been a blessing for me.
It was Raheen Didi who recognized the potential in me and gave me several opportunities to showcase my talent to the society. She gave my hobbies a purpose and helped me bloom with her guidance, love and care. When I was in the 9th grade, she had faith in my abilities and gave me the opportunity to anchor an important event on the occasion of Navratri for the very first time in my life, and that too in the presence of the Minister of Child and Women Health Care, who appreciated my abilities and felicitated me. That was a very proud moment for me and Raheen Didi. It was only because of her support that this was possible for me. She always encouraged me to do something extraordinary and creative that would help me explore myself. She was with me for about five years; but those five years meant the world to me and I enjoyed every bit of that time with her. She plays a major role in my life to help me achieve all my dreams and goals. She is not my biological mother, but our relationship is as special as that of a mother and daughter. She gave birth to the new phase of my life. Under her constant love and care, I grew from a sapling and became a beautiful plant. When I was studying in the 10th grade, Raheen Didi gave me an opportunity to be the voice of a female fetus in a mother’s womb in a short film made for spreading the social message of ‘Save the Girl Child’. I received such a wonderful opportunity only because of her. She has been a constant support in my life. She has always given me the courage to get out of my shell and try the things I never thought of doing. She has always been instrumental in building confidence in me with her powerful words- "Yes, you can do it". It’s only because of her, that today I believe in Miracles- I believe in the power of Intent.
After I completed my schooling, I opted for the Science Stream in college. Once, I completed my 12th grade, Raheen Didi suggested that I opt for Nursing, based on my potentials and interests. I completed my Nursing Degree from a renowned government college- G T Hospital. Today, I am a successful Registered Nurse. Since the past five years, I have been performing my duties as a nurse very sincerely and ethically and I enjoy helping each and every one of my patients by providing the care they need. My mom feels extremely proud of me that I completed my Nursing Degree and even own my own house today all because she made me so capable with her constant love and hard work.
I have faced many ups and downs in my life due to financial problems and due to the discouraging ways of the society, but I never felt discouraged or disappointed. I always reminded myself that if you want success in your life, then focus on the goals and not the obstacles, push yourself and rise up again day after day because no one else is going to do it for you but ‘You’! Grab every opportunity you get to make your future brighter and to change your destiny.
I just want to tell everyone that "Today might feel bad, Tomorrow may seem worse, but the day after tomorrow will be the best. So never let your failures get to you and give up. God has given equal opportunities to everyone. You just need to be aware of your abilities and potentials, accept the challenges that life throws at you and fight fiercely to achieve your dreams. You are the only artist of your own life. You can’t waste your precious life by waiting for somebody to come into your life and make your life more graceful and colorful. mold yourself, your behaviors, and your personality in such a manner that someday someone would be inspired by you and consider you their Role Model.
Lastly, I would like to thank the entire team of OYA Foundation for the lovely opportunities they provided me with. It was a one-of-a-kind experience for me. Thank you OYA for all your support.