Q&A with Khushi Prajapati

Jyotika Jain, who helped produce AJWS’s video about Khushi, recently caught up with her to hear what she’s been up to in the past three years. Read on for their interview, which has been edited for length.

JJ: It’s been quite some time since we met in 2015 … What have been the changes in your life since then?

KP: After struggling so much in life, I achieved a lot. It was a very difficult time, but now the level I have reached—I am working as a trainer here [at Azad]—I feel very proud.

Now that I work here as a trainer, as a teacher, it has led to some changes … Earlier, when I was a driver, I had to take directions from somebody, asking them what I should do. Now my students take directions from me.

I have bought a property and built a house on it, which is in my mother’s name. Now I want to buy a property in my own name. That’s what I am thinking about my future. My brother is studying for a bachelor’s in education and my younger sister wants to become a doctor, so there will be a lot spent on their studies, too.

JJ: A lot of your students must also be facing a lot of difficulties in their lives. How do you motivate them?

KP: Mainly, they tell me that their family is refusing to allow them to learn this—because they are ladies. Then I tell them that they should make their family understand that in every place of work, people come to work. In big hotels, men work as chefs. If they start thinking that only women can cook, those chefs would have to be removed and only women would be hired.

I tell them, ‘You have to change the family’s way of thinking … Make them understand that there is no difference between a man’s work and a woman’s work. Anybody can do anything.’

JJ: What are the main reasons why girls drop out of training?

KP: The main reason is this thinking that, ‘How can a girl go to drive? Girls don’t drive. This job is only for men, a girl cannot do this.’ This is the old-style thinking people have.

Actually, there are very few drop outs because of the girls themselves; mostly it is because of their parents. They tell them that you can’t go out alone; you can’t come back late …These are the usual issues.

Why are there still so many restrictions on girls? Why are they stopped from doing things? … I feel really bad because I feel that I am enough to set an example. My colleagues, who are also drivers, are enough to set an example.

JJ: Can you tell me the difference between you as an instructor and the instructor who trained you?

KP: They [the students] might not share a lot of things with the male trainers, but they share with me. If they have a personal problem or a family problem, they would share it with me … I was also a trainee here before, so I am able to understand them better.

JJ: What kind of advice do you get?

KP: Among relatives, everyone says that your daughter is big enough to get married now. But in the office, the advice that people give me is that you have reached this level—and now you can go further.

JJ: As a teacher, how do you encourage your trainees?

KP: For trainees who do not understand quickly, I give them my own example to motivate them. [I tell them] that I was also like you all, and if you want to do something in your life, then you can do even better than me. You just have to focus on your work.