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Gritty Tales: Amid a Year of Setbacks, These are The Winners of 2020 Who Gave Us Hope

some of these inspiring stories that instilled fresh bouts of confidence and faith in the silver lining in us. (Photo: twitter)

some of these inspiring stories that instilled fresh bouts of confidence and faith in the silver lining in us. (Photo: twitter)

Some struck up the courage to follow their dreams with whatever little they had and some changed professions but all of them, in the face of misfortune and adversity of the worst kind, emerged as winners.

The unprecedented pandemic situation the world braved since early this year has taken away a lot from the people. Starting from their livelihoods, homes to beloved ones, the coronavirus snatched away a significant part and time from the world. The economy suffered setbacks like never before as they crumbled like a pack of cards as businesses came to a screeching halt everywhere. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned as early as in April that the global economy was headed for its worst nosedive since the Great Depression. And it turned out to be true.

The pandemic is estimated to cost the global economy a huge $11.5 trillion including $5 trillion to $5.6 trillion in GDP, a study put together by experts from medicine, economics, environment and conservation says.

But losing jobs has not been able to snuff out the spirit and resilience of people. Taking on the curveballs thrown at them, many of these people came out stronger, better than before as they decided to make good of the proverbial phrase of 'when life gives you lemon, you make lemonade'. Some struck up the courage to follow their dreams with whatever little they had and some changed professions but all of them, in the face of misfortune and adversity of the worst kind, emerged as winners.

So, as we welcome another new year with the hopes of leaving behind the coronavirus and its effects, here's a look at some of these inspiring stories that instilled fresh bouts of confidence and faith in life's good things in us.

Unadadi Sharada, Hyderabad

Unadadi Sharada from Hyderabad was working in an MNC when she lost her job during the Covid-19 crisis. A report in TOI said that Sharada's company could no longer pay her salary and they could find a project for her to work on either. But instead of losing hope and buckling down from the extreme financial crisis, Sharada did what she had to to support her family - she started selling vegetables at the local market. Her daily routine was fixed, waking up at 4 am, going to the wholesale market to get vegetables, and then selling them at the market to make a living. To her, that was an honest day's work. Sharada's story soon went viral on social media, and reached actor Sonu Sood, who has been going out of his way to help migrant workers and anyone who needs it during the pandemic. A Twitter user had tagged Sood, asking him to help the woman. Sood responded saying he had already reached out to her, interviewed her and offered her a job.

Ram Vriksha Gaur, TV Show Director

Ram Vriksha Gaur, one of the directors of the famous TV serial 'Balika Vadhu', had come to Azamgarh for the recce of a film. The director was here with the team when the lockdown was announced and then it was not possible to return. Gaur's project was stopped and the producer said it would take another year or more to get back to work. Finding no other choice, Gaur set upon the task of selling vegetables to eke out a living. However, Gaur's resilience in the face of adversity is commendable. Speaking to reporters, he said at that time, "After that happened, I then decided to take on my father's business and started selling vegetables on a handcart. I am familiar with the business and have no regrets." He has worked as an assistant director with names such as Yashpal Sharma, Milind Gunaji, Rajpal Yadav, Randeep Hooda, Sunil Shetty. Actor Annup Sonii, who was one of the lead characters in Balika Vadhu, had also responded to the news of Gaur's situation and said the team was getting in touch with him to offer whatever help they can.

Azrin Mohamad Zawawi, Malaysia

Malaysian pilot Azrin Mohamad Zawawi (44) was among thousands of staff who lost their jobs after airlines across nations retrenched their workers. Deprived of a regular income after his most recent employer, Malindo Air, was forced to slash its workforce this month, the father of four decided to start a food business, selling Malaysian dishes such as a curry noodle dish made from a family recipe, laksa, and a mixed fruit dish called rojak. But his positive attitude and his love for flying made Zawawi come up with a unique idea. He set up shop, put on his white uniform and black captain's hat and named his stall 'Kapten Corner'. Zawawi's stall is in a suburb just outside the capital, Kuala Lumpur. Zawawi's business got a surge of unexpected publicity when a photograph of him wearing his captain's uniform under a red apron taken by his wife and posted on social media went viral. Azrin hoped his experience can inspire others affected by the pandemic to try new ways to make a living Not one to miss out on using flying phrases, Zawawi believes in embracing the challenge and never give up... It's like flying the aircraft, we always move forward," he said.

Akshay Parker, Mumbai

Parkar had been working as an international cruise chef serving elite customers for eight years when the perils of the pandemic hit him and he lost his job. He was a star chef in 7-star hotels and cruises until he was let go. But when push came to shove, he made the best out of a challenging situation and opened up a roadside stall and started selling biryani in Dadar area of Mumbai. His story became the stuff of inspiration when it was shared on Facebook on a page named ‘Being Malwani’. The sole breadwinner of his family, Parkar’s both parents were ill for some time, he told Better India. The post received several heartwarming and praising comments from users of the platform. Many people wished Parkar good luck for his current and future endeavours.

Revan Shinde, Pune

Shinde came to the city some 6 years ago along with his siblings with hopes of getting a decent paying job and was hired as a security guard in a logistics company in Pimpri-Chinchwad. He was paid just Rs 12,000 a month but he was earning, he told The Better India. But when the company shut shop in December 2019, Shinde was out of a job and took to working at various local stalls to earn through odd jobs. In March this year he started his own snack and tea corner in Pimpri with the little bit of savings he had. But misfortune struck again when even before he could have a sizeable number of customers, the lockdown happened. But he did not give up. He held on till June and when the city started opening up again eventually, he started his operations. But with the virus still a concerning factor for the public, Shinde decided to allay people’s fear by serving tea in a thermos and paper cups. Slowly his customer base grew among bank employees and in industrial and commercial areas when people began calling him up for orders. Along with ginger tea, the startup offers coffee and hot milk as well. Named Abhimanyu, the tea delivery service now earns a profit of Rs 50,000 a month and employs 5 people who deliver nearly 700 cups of tea in a day.

Rohit Bhattacharjee, Tripura

A second year student of English Honours, 22-year-old Bhattacharjee started a LED bulb manufacturing unit to provide employment to several who lost jobs during the pandemic. With nothing more than Rs 1 lakh for investment, Bhattacharjee even sold his bike that was gifted to him by his parents to add to the business, HT reported. His unit, in the Mahaprabhu Sarani in Dharmanagar sub division of North District employs 8 people among which two are women, reported Hindustan Times. With an aim to help light up every house in his city, Bhattacharjee started reading up and watching the process on how to make LED bulbs and finally opened up a small unit in a 12*24 room with the help of a punching machine, cap fitting machine along with some raw materials. Three of his employees joined him after they lost their jobs in the pandemic. Bhattacharjee eventually started getting orders from the local retailers and today they manufacture 600-700 LED bulbs every day. One person builds at least a 100 bulbs daily and each one is priced at rs 65.

Mary Mae Dacanay, Philippines

Mary’s story is also one of inspiration and hope amid the pandemic. The 23-year-old was working in a factory when she lost her job due to the economic constraints of the pandemic. To make ends meet and do something creative with her love for art, Mary decided to use her talent to earn, she told Reuters. Finding it difficult to procure canvas and other materials during lockdown, she picked leaves from a jackfruit tree and cut them to etch well-known faces such as Robert Downey Jr and Oprah Winfrey to Michael Jackson among others. She sells her art for upto $8 a piece (400 pesos). Mary was able to turn something novel and creative into a opportunity amid the hardships during pandemic.

Devesh, Ghaziabad

A political science postgraduate, Devesh was working as a guest teacher at the Government Boys Secondary School in Delhi’s Mehrauli when the pandemic struck. Working at the school since the past 7 years, Devesh had thought he had earned a spot for a permanent job. But instead, a Delhi education department’s order that stated that temporary teachers would be paid only till May 8 due to their services being stopped for the time, Devesh found himself along with some 20,000 such teachers out of work, TOI reported. He was even threatened of eviction by his landlord and braving all of that, the 40-year-old now has started a cycle repairing shop to earn a livelihood, TOI reported. For skills he needed, Devesh turned to the internet, he taught himself using videos and learnt the intricacies of it and is supporting his wife and 7-year-son through this. But despite the overwhelming adversities, Devesh is holding on to hopes of going back to teaching and wants his son to study to become a doctor, something he says he could not fulfil for himself.

Ashwin Thakkar, Ahmedabad

Thakkar, a visually impaired person worked as a telephone operator in a hotel in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad when he lost his job during the COVID-19 induced lockdown. Not letting the hardships get the better of him, Ashwin started selling Carrie fruit during May-June. For a while he even sold dried dates of Kutch and finally started selling Farsan (Gujarati snacks). Ashwin told news agency ANI that he never thought the business would go this long. He said it was initially difficult for him to do the deliveries due to his condition, but through sheer will power and determination and lastly but most importantly, his wife’s support helped him do it. “We are planning to set up a stall of sweets during the days of Dussehra and Diwali. As I am not able to see, many people come to help me. But, I believe that if we are fit we should not take the help of anyone. Everyone has some talent in themselves and if they work hard they will achieve success, “ he says.

Subhan, Mumbai

Mumbai's 14-year-old Subhan and his family have had it tough always. Subhan's father passed away when he was just two-years-old. Since then his mother had been working as a school bus attendant to sustain the family which includes Subhan and his sisters. But the coronavirus lockdown brought wrecked fresh havoc on the family as Subhan's mother was left jobless. Subhan then took the matters in his own hands and started selling tea to support his family and to ensure his sisters continue with their online classes. " I make tea at a shop in Bhendi Bazaar and sell it in Nagpada, Bhendi Bazaar and other areas," he said further, adding that he doesn't have a shop of his own. The boy earns Rs 300-400 in a day and hands the sum to his mother apart from saving a little.

Ravi Kant, Noida

An assistant manager at an MNC, Kant was the sole provider for his family of 6 that included his wife, two children and his parents, But the lockdown changed everything. He lost his job in March and the enormous task of paying for his children’s school fees, parents medicines and daily costs made him desperately search for an alternative. He turned to food and opened a stall named ‘Round the Corner #4Foodies’. With whatever little savings he had, Kant opened a small food stall and started serving sandwiches, burgers, puffs and fries. The taste, his customers say is a huge crowd puller. Speaking to TOI, Kant said that even though he is earning less than he did before, his love for food and cooking keeps him motivated to work hard for his family. Also when people come back to his stall to savour his food, he knows this is something he is good at and drives him to work harder.

Maragani Rambabu, Telangana

Rambabu was the principal of a private school before the lockdown set in and he lost the sole livelihood he had. But not letting the pandemic get the better of him, the 35-year-old started a stall selling idli, dosa, vada in the Khammam district of Telangana. Rambabu and his wife both run the stall together to ensure they could provide for their family. The 36-year-old says there are many others like him who have become unemployed during the lockdown enforced to curb the coronavirus. He wished that the government at both the central and state levels help those in distress.