Mumbai-based Vidya Shelke recently lost her job. With two small children at home and a family to take care of, she decided to start her own taxi service for the disabled, elderly women and the needy. For the last two months, Vidya has been patrolling in Mulund area to ensure that passengers return to their homes safe and secure. She used to work for a ride-sharing company until recently, when her company decided to let her go. “Suddenly I was jobless and the uncertain future of my children loomed in front of eyes,” she said to Mumbai Mirror.

Vidya, who had to give up her studies after Class 10, said that living in the city is difficult and paying for children’s education is tough with only one family member earning. She said, “My husband works very hard. I wanted to support him and help fulfil the dreams of both our children.” She did not want the same future for her kids so over the years, she took up jobs, learnt driving an auto-rickshaw, among others to support her husband before landing in a job at the ride-sharing company.

The 28-year-old has already helped more than 150 people return home. Vidya has made a brilliant comeback with the initiative after she lost her job, proving that women have the power to shine every day.

What You Should Know

  • ​A couple of days into the lockdown, Mumbai-based Vidya Shelke had been laid off by her company.
  • ​She then decided to start her own taxi service for senior citizens and women stuck in the city.
  • So far, Vidya has helped more than 150 people to return home.
  • She ​doesn’t overcharge and also asks no money for the return journey.

Going the extra mile, no overcharge

Vidya has been watching elderly and ailing women struggle to reach their villages since the lockdown was started. Jobless and hungry, many senior citizens and women stranded in Mumbai needed a ride to get back to their hometowns. “I wanted to be a responsible citizen and yet earn a living,” she Vidya, who charges only Rs 12 per kilometre one way – not the return journey. ​“It was immediately clear that people couldn’t return home without transport. So I put out a video offering to take people home,” said the TikTok user who is using the platform to promote her service in the locality.

Working towards a good cause, Vidya also arranges e-pass for the passengers to ensure hassle-free travel to Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad, Kolhapur, Satara, Sangli and Nagpur Mumbai Mirror reported.  ​“In the process, I have also helped scores of people,” said Vidya. She recounts an incident, she was returning home from Nashik after a trip, when a woman called her asking for help. The woman and her children had been thrown out by her husband and wanted to go to Mahalaxmi in Mumbai. On her way back, Vidya dropped them home.

Born in a village called Undirwadi, Aurangabad, the mother of two lives with her husband Anil Shelke in Mulund. Anil has a small business, transporting agricultural commodities from Nashik to Mumbai.

​Wears masks and drives a cab

Committed to social distancing, Vidya hailed, “My social taxi service follows all norms of social distancing, the vehicle is sanitised and I am more than happy to help anyone in need,” Vidya said.

Feature Image Credit: Aapla Mahanagar

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