I am Vennila, Operator, Kattur Village, Minjur block, Thiruvallur Dist, Tamilnadu
Vennila hails from a place called Irukkam where the water is tasty...You take a boat to reach our place, she remembered. Eighteen years ago when she was married, she moved to Kattur, her husband’s place. He husband runs a tea shop. The family also have some land that they cultivate various crops on. Nothing worth a mention and nothing could take the family out of the debts, she sighed. She found odd jobs to do to supplement the meagre income. The last one was that of a cashier at the Electricity Board, which was a leave vacancy. Soon the time had come for her to hand the job back to its owner who returned after leave. She was out of a job again.
She has studied till 8th standard, but Kattur being a remote village did ßßaa offer anything in terms of work other than the hundred days work scheme which has the entire village competing for. Now, her son is in the 3rd year of college and her daughter is doing her 11th grade. Last October, there was talk of the water ATM plant being set up in Kattur village. She was identified for the Operator job by a village water committee member. She had handled cash, but had not handled technology. However, after speaking to the team from Sarvajal, she was confident that she could learn it – she was willing to stretch herself for a job.
Naren, Junior Field Engineer (JFE) from Sarvajal spent time teaching her to operate the machine and the recharge cards. I don’t know English, but JFE brother went over and over again to teach me the process. Initially it was difficult as I could not remember the sequence and my mind would go blank. JFE brother was a strict teacher. I soon realised that only because he was strict, I was even putting the effort, if not, I would not have learnt to recharge the cards. He did help me for a week after too, She recalls.
My routine starts with filling the tank and helping people who come to the ATM from 7.30 in the morning to 11.00 a.m. I go into the village for enrolling people as members. I go home for lunch and return at 3.00 p.m. and I am here till 7.30 p.m. This routine is convenient. If anybody needs me otherwise they do call me and I can be at the water plant in minutes. When I need help I call the JFE brother.
This job has given me three things that I wanted a) a workplace near my house, I have got it now. b) I like helping people, and serving water is the best that I can do as service and c) I make friends quickly and I know this village well. People trust me and would listen when I talk to them about the new water ATM. They would hand over the money for membership without thinking twice about it.
With the agriculture and the tea shop, it was hard to make ends meet. Now, being an operator, I will be able to ensure a steady income for my family. My children can continue to pursue their education.
Water from ATM is tasty ...just like that from my mom's village. After drinking salt water for the last 18 years, this water plant has brought us good water.