Ever since she had Polio as a child at age 5, Rekha Padwal has been on a wheelchair. But the incurable disease did not impact her spirit. With hard work and determination, coupled with the support from her family, Rekha not only went on to graduate with a B.Com degree, but has become one of the star employees at Amazon India.
As a Customer Service Associate at the Amazon Development Centre in Pune, this 32-year-old – who joined Amazon India just two years ago - won the ‘Customer Obsession’ Award (twice) in 2019 and the ‘Hi-Five’ Award in 2020; the latter for her outstanding performance while working from home during the lockdown.
In a candid chat with Day One Blog, Rekha recollected her struggles, which eventually led her to become the content, confident woman she is today.
“My father would tell me, “People with disabilities are always treated with pity; but you have to make others think differently about them. You can do it if you achieve something in life.” He even taught me driving and took me to hospitals for multiple surgeries so that I can at least stand up with the help of a Caliper. I have always wanted to be independent.”
Originally from Bhandara district in Maharashtra, Rekha did B.Com from a local college. “My parents and my brother always encouraged me to pursue education; but going to college was stressful for me, as my peers – especially boys- would tease me about my disability. The teachers were not very helpful either. So I would get notes from college via peons, and went to class on Sundays only. I wanted to build my own path rather than hide from the world,” she recounts.
After college, Rekha could not find a job in her village, and hence went on to learn tailoring, beautician services, tele-calling etc.
The Pune chapter
After her marriage to an accountant, Rekha moved to Pune. Keen to be physically fit, Rekha participated in a wheelchair-marathon in the city in 2019, and won Gold medal. She also made friends with a few women who use the wheelchair, and got them all together to form a Basketball team and practice under a professional coach every weekend. “We won the state championship in 2019 after just two months of practice, and we will play again nationally,” she says excitedly.
It was this indomitable spirit that led Rekha to Amazon India in 2019. She was given job-training for about six weeks, which she says boosted her confidence. “I cannot thank Amazon enough for providing me with all the facilities I need; my team members as well as my seniors have been very supportive,” says Rekha.
Today, Rekha does innumerable calls daily. “I get my energy from the positive feedback I receive from the callers. In fact I always ask for feedback so that I can improve myself. I want to rise in Amazon,” she signs off with a smile.