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In a Slum, this Beautician is Brightening Her Future

Shrabani didn’t have a bright future. Poverty was her lot in life, and she had accepted it—at least, she thought she had.

Married at a very young age, she and her husband live in a slum community in Kolkata, India.

Like most women in the slums, Shrabani had dropped out of school and lacked the education and skills needed to get a job. Her husband works as a laborer and is the sole provider for their family. This fact made Shrabani feel ashamed. She imagined that others viewed her as someone who would forever be dependent on her husband; never able to contribute to her family financially.


That was until she met community workers from the New India Church of God (NICOG), our local partner in Kolkata. The community workers told Shrabani about NICOG’s Beautician Training Course and invited her to join.

For the first time in as long as she could remember, Shrabani felt hope. Her life might change after all. Still, she was nervous about enrolling in the program. But despite her hesitations, she decided to join.

Over the next three months, she was equipped with the skills needed to work as an assistant in a Beauty Parlor. In addition to practical skills, the program also helped her, and the other participants, develop a healthy sense of self-worth.

Shrabani, right, at the Beautician Training Course graduation ceremony
Shrabani, right, at the Beautician Training Course graduation ceremony

After completing the training, Shrabani interviewed for an assistant position with a local Beauty Parlor—and she got the job!

Today, she earns around $95 a month and has become a significant contributor towards her family’s income. She is now able to see beyond the day-to-day struggle of making ends meet and has new, bigger dreams for herself and her family.

While NICOG provides practical support and economic opportunities to women in slums, they are also working to change the mindset of the community.

In India, especially in slums and villages, women are not seen as able to contribute. The general understanding is that men must work and provide financially, while women are meant to stay at home and look after the family. NICOG is trying to show the community members that women have something to offer, too. Like men, they can work, earn equal wages, and provide proper financial support to their families.

To date, 70 women like Shrabani have participated in NICOG’s Beautician Training Program.

With the backdrop of a slum, where opportunities are few and hope is sparing, these women are now able to create a better life for their families. They have gained a new sense of respect from their husbands and neighbors, and are seen in light of their inherent dignity, worth, and potential.