Noted American trial lawyer Louis Nizer once said, “I know of no higher fortitude than stubbornness in the face of overwhelming odds.”

And obstinate Jyothi Reddy indeed was.

Despite being born in a destitute family, Jyothi Reddy had an unwavering belief in her dreams. She wanted to get rich and have enough food and clothes. Jyothi was made to realise the importance of money quite early in life, when she and her sister had to leave their home and pretend to be motherless to get admitted to an orphanage as their father was not able to provide for the family. During the five years she spent in the orphanage, she missed her mother the most but meeting her was not an option. Such hardships fuelled the fire of her ambition. She started learning several vocational arts at the orphanage and focused on her education.

However, the circumstances took a turn for the worse when she was married off to farm labourer ten years older to her, at the age of sixteen. Her husband was uneducated and would earn a measley five rupees a day. She too had to join him in the fields in order to provide for their new-born daughter who was born within a year of marriage. Another daughter followed the next year making Jyothi a mother of two at eighteen. The collective income of this couple was barely enough to feed four mouths.

Jyothi started exploring other avenues.

She got to know about an opportunity that could get her out of the fields, pay better and reconnect her to the world of education. A school built by the government to provide villagers basic education needed volunteers for Rs. 150 a month. Jyothi grabbed the opportunity.

This was the work she put her heart into and was promoted soon after. Jyothi could afford milk and fruits for her children now. To earn a little more money, she started stitching petticoats at nights. She also learned typewriting to acquire more skills.

Determined to change her condition, she completed her graduation and post-graduation from an open university. This qualified her to be a special teacher in a government school for Rs. 398 a month. To utilize the two hours she had to spend commuting each day to reach her school, she would sell sarees to co-passengers. Deprivation taught her to value time.

A chance meeting with a relative settled in the US opened a new world to her. She started learning computers and saving money for visa and passport to go to the land of opportunity.

Leaving her daughters in a missionary hostel, Jyothi flew to America. She worked at gas stations, video shops, as a porter and babysitter to get by.

She managed to save 40,000 dollars and started a software company KEYSS in Phoenix. The current worth of her company is claimed to be more than 15 million dollars.

She also got her teenage daughters to US and sent them to American schools to finish their education.

Having altered her fate, Jyothi’s next mission was to fix the lives of others. She started providing financial support to orphanages, old age homes and asylums in India.

She has also joined hands with several NGOs and met with government officials and policy makers to get them to think about those who have no one to care for them. She keeps moving back and forth between the two countries to get recognition, education, food, shelter and healthcare for orphans and girls.

Her fight is far from over. But knowing her past achievements, no challenge looks too big for Jyothi Reddy.

(Content Produced By Contagio Media. Photo via