By Surekha Pendse
MUMBAI: I was travelling back from work by train one day when I saw these two teachers in the compartment and they had lovely envelopes. I thought they were from tailoring institute as the envelopes had cute miniature fashion dresses on them. They told me something that was a pleasant surprise. They said they bought those envelops in Mumbai itself. After getting all the details, I felt I should tell Rebecca’s story to all of you.
Rebecca Caroline Fonseca was born with chronic liver disease Portal Hypertension and Hepato-pulmonary Syndrome. Portal hypertension increases blood pressure within a system of veins called the portal venous system (veins coming from the stomach, intestine, spleen, and pancreas merge into the portal vein, which then branches into smaller vessels and travels through the liver). Hepatopulmonary syndrome causes shortness of breath and hypoxemia (low oxygen levels in blood in the arteries) caused by vasodilation (broadening of the blood vessels) in the lungs of patients with liver disease. The condition means a person feels discomfort due to breathlessness, can’t walk long distances and work, and at times suffers from bluish discolouration of skin due to inadequate oxygenation of blood.
While such an ailment would be enough for anyone to get depressed and abandon hope, Rebecca is instead fighting it out and is a source of pride for her family and friends.
So here is Rebecca’s story in her own words:
My parents got the biggest shock of their life when I was just five months old. They learnt that I was suffering from a chronic liver disease Portal Hypertension and Hepatopulmonary Syndrome. This makes me breathless, making me very ill at times and unable to do any work.
But they never let my condition discourage me – they always inspired me to do my work, told me to live my life fully as I wanted.
As I could not go to regular school because of my health condition, I was put in Canossa Special School in Mahim where I got interested in arts and craft. I learnt making different creative things. I picked up the techniques easily and as the things I created were good, my family and friends encourage me to sell them. I was a bit hesitant at the start as I was not sure whether people will be interested in buying such things (Rejection would have been a big letdown). But their constant encouragement gave me the strength to try this and that’s how my journey as an entrepreneur started.
My parents are not very rich and we do not have unlimited resources to take care of my medical expenses – anyway they spend a major part of their earnings taking care of me. So I decided to take care of my own medical expenses. I didn’t want to be a burden to my parents, who have done so much for me already.
My work-day usually starts early in the morning soon after I have my breakfast. I take regular breaks whenever I feel tired and continue my work till the evening and sometimes in the night. I got good response from my family and friends. They are all happy and love my work. I use my own ideas and incorporate them in the techniques I learnt in the school.
I buy good quality material and take time to do my work neatly and market it through family and friends. People also got to know about them through word of mouth and get in touch for their specific needs. I also have a page on Facebook on which people can get in touch for craft products.
I want to learn new creative arts and expand my business. In this entire journey, I have not got any help from any organisation but if possible, I would like to help others. However, because of my illness I have not been able to do that so far.
Wondering what this story is doing in Stars of Startups?
It is our salute to the braveheart’s entrepreneurial and indomitable human spirit.
Rebecca believes that humanity exists as almost all the people who know her or know about her help her to sell her products as most of her craft works are sold through word of mouth.
You too can get in touch with her through her Facebook page: Rebecca’s Creations (https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=rebeccas%20creations) and help her by buying her crafts products.
I felt so proud of the young girl that I decided to share her story as an inspiration for all of us who crib about small petty things that we do not have in our life or those young and old entrepreneurs who get dejected by failures.
So take on the world, just like Rebecca, and be proud and make the world feel proud of you. She has been doing it for 23 year now.