22-year-old single mother, who drives an Auto Rickshaw and preparing for IAS – Yellamma

18 February 2017

Yellamma Auto Driver bangalore

Yellamma is a 22-year-old single mother, who drives an auto rickshaw and preparing for the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) exam. She hails from Bengaluru.

Her parents forced her to marry a flower decorator when she was 18. She gave birth to a boy at the age of 20. Her husband is no longer with her. She lives with her two-year-old son in Bengaluru. She could have run away from her problems; however, she decided to be strong and earn for her son and herself. She decided to drive a rickshaw. Yellamma didn’t have any knowledge about driving a rickshaw. She learnt it from her brother-in-law. She faced many challenges when she started looking for an auto. When she went to owners, they refused to rent Yellamma an auto citing her gender as the reason.

“Auto-rickshaw owners refused to rent a vehicle because they won’t give one to a woman. A mechanic finally agreed to rent me an auto for Rs 130 per day,” Yellamma told The Economic Times.

After struggling a lot, one mechanic finally got ready to rent her an auto for Rs. 130 per day. She drives from 6 am to 8 pm and wastes no time between two trips, devouring magazines and newspapers in her free time.  She is studying for her PUC but her ultimate goal is the IAS. Also, she wants to help other women.

Passengers have been good to her. “They are curious and ask me to narrate my story. They encourage me to study on and even pay 10-20 over and above the meter.” She added.

Many times Yellamma faces hostility from male auto-rickshaw drivers. She says that “They say I’m snatching their customers away.” Yellamma earns Rs 700-800 a day, half of which goes into rickshaw’s rent and fuel expenses.

“When life knocks you down you have two choices- stay down or get up” – she chose to get up.

#WomenOfCourage

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