By Rumana Firdous
Sometimes when you see no doors opening in your life, you find an open window in your life, light shining in. That was what happened to me a couple of weeks ago when I discovered VOICE 4 Girls. At that point, I had been interviewing for jobs every single day for three weeks straight. None of them were going very well. It seemed that my interviewers were always finding some fault with me. When I was about to give up, having been worn down by all the difficulties women in India face trying to find jobs, one of my friends, told me about VOICE.
My friend Neha from university told me about a field coordinator position for VOICE 4 Girls. She was recently hired as a FC, and she says that the experience has been invaluable. What the job of a Field Coordinator (FC) entails is training teachers in low-income schools on communication and basic teaching skills and travelling to schools were VOICE’s yearlong program is being held to monitor and ensure the quality of teaching and the progress of the programs. To be honest, this seemed like a huge responsibility to me—it was intimidating. But, it was also a challenge that offered a lot of freedom and autonomy, so I went with it. I wrote back to my friend and then to Valli, VOICE’s regional coordinator who acts as the supervisor for the FCs, and scheduled an interview.
Unlike most of the interviews I have had in the past few weeks, which were so numbing and rote, the VOICE interview was personal and a conversation. I learned more about VOICE as my interviewers learned more about me. I spoke about my passions and interests, and through that, really learned more about myself. I was so surprised at how well the first interview went, and when I went back to the office for the second and third interviews, I felt extremely comfortable talking to my interviewers about VOICE and women empowerment.
I think when you want something a lot, you get nervous about the prospects of not getting. That was how I felt as I waited for a decision. I was extremely nervous because working with a women-empowerment NGO would mean so much to me. I would feel like I am at the frontlines of the battle for my and all women’s rights. When I finally got a confirmation call from VOICE, I was thrilled. I immediately said yes because I could see no better path for me at this stage in my life.
It has been a week since I joined the VOICE team. I still remember my first day of work so vividly. It was exciting to walk into an office that is warm and welcoming. Getting caught up with everything that VOICE does and its different programs was overwhelming, but in the best way. The work environment at the VOICE office has such a positive and energetic vibe, so all throughout my first day, I was very excited to learn.
Training for the three FCs started the next day. During training I learned about women’s rights and gender issues. I find it liberating how freely we talk about the realities of life in India for women. We at the office may sometimes have different opinions, but we are all very respectful of what the others say. It’s crazy to think that it has only been a week since I joined the team because I already feel so comfortable with the team and familiar with the place. I really want to thank each member of the VOICE team for welcoming me aboard, and more than that, for giving me an opportunity when I thought that I had none.