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International women’s day: Meet Noor Jehan, the first lady mini-truck driver of remote Poonch

SRINAGAR:  Every morning, Noor Jehan, 38, meticulously checks the inventory inside a Spartan shop-cum-warehouse at Poonch. A mini-truck remains parked on the road as her husband helps in loading the goods.

Carrying a handbag and voucher book, Noor Jehan recites a small prayer before turning the ignition key of the mini-truck.  Her husband sits next to her as she drives down to supply goods to retailers across the district.

The 38-year-old mother of four is the first woman mini-truck driver in the remote border district of Poonch.  She might not have received a formal education, but she is a role model for the women living in far-flung areas.

“My husband was a contractor. But we were struggling to make ends meet. One day, I told my husband that I will open a small shop where I would stitch clothes and also sell groceries. We took a loan and started a shop in 2016. By the grace of Allah, our business kicked off well,” Noor Jehan told The Kashmir Monitor.

Noor Jehan

Despite being illiterate, she designed a business model which can even surprise big corporate honchos. She got a mini-truck and decided to supply goods to shopkeepers at their doorsteps.

“Shopkeepers from remote areas had to visit Poonch town to buy goods. We analyzed this scenario and decided to supply goods right at their doorsteps. First I got ECCO and started supplying goods. Since the clientele was huge, the van was not able to carry much of the load. Then we bought a mini-truck which helps us to cater to the demands,” she said.

Shunning inhibitions and breaking taboos, she decided to learn to drive. “My husband taught me driving. He was once a driver himself, but he developed some problems and as a result, he cannot drive anymore. So I took it upon myself and decided to supply goods in my mini-truck. People are really appreciating my work. Whenever I go to Jammu, people jostle to congratulate me for doing the unexpected,” she said.

A mother of four kids with the eldest son pursuing graduation, she has also set up a small packaging unit at home. “After my kids’ return from school and college, they help in packing spices and dry fruits. We pay them for the work. Our aim is to teach them self-sustenance. By the time I reach home they had finished the task for the day. Later they do homework and help me in my daily chores,” she said.