What is your idea of a normal working day?
For most people, going to work probably means about an hour’s commute every morning to get to the comfortable and safe confines of an air-conditioned office, followed by another hour in the evening to get home.
For a trucker, going to work takes on an entirely different meaning. He is away from his home and family for days, maneuvering massive and heavy, cargo-laden trucks, driving along roads and highways across the length and breadth of the country, in all kinds of challenging and dangerous situations. With this, he not only is earning for his family and himself but also catering to our daily needs, starting with morning tea to the goodnight coil. Being a truck driver demands an altogether different level of skill and mental toughness.
To put the situation further in perspective – India has the highest number of road fatalities in the world. It accounts for more than one-third of global road accident deaths (as per global estimated figures).
With road safety being the biggest concern, imagine the constant anxiety of the families of these truckers who do not get to see or even speak to their husbands, sons, fathers for days on end.
This is where Mahindra Truck and Bus has been attempting to bring about a positive change in the lives of India’s truck driver community and their families through various programs and initiatives such as Mahindra Saarthi Abhiyaan (Visit our website here - https://www.mahindratruckandbus.com/aboutus/our-initiatives.aspx)
Come Home Papa is one such initiative that is part of Mahindra Saarthi Abhiyaan, a program that aims to continuously engage with India’s trucking community and their families, through inclusive ideas like scholarships for the daughters of truck drivers.
In 2017, the Come Home Papa initiative was announced in collaboration with literary partner #TellMeYourStory, as a short story contest for the scholarship-winning girls. The theme was ‘Road Safety’. What emerged were exceptionally inspiring and poignant stories that brought alive just what road safety means to a truck driver’s daughter. The stories also spoke of the father-daughter bond and underlined girl child empowerment. A collection of the shortlisted stories has been published and launched as a book titled ‘Come Home Papa’.
Here are excerpts from two stories in the book. Stories that present a heartfelt personal account of the deep-seated fears and emotions of the daughters of truck drivers;
‘My father plans his travel in advance, based on the area he will be driving through. This way he can pass through forest areas during the daytime, minimising chances of road robbery, or attacks by wild animals, or getting stuck in a lonely deserted area in case of a breakdown... unpredictable dangers lurk in the lives of truck drivers. Father often shares experiences from his life and the lives of his driver friends. They sometimes send a chill down my spine.’
- ‘Lessons of the Road’ by Maganti Lavanya
‘If my father doesn’t come back home in time, my mother’s face goes pale while waiting for him. Many times we are unable to contact him as he would be driving in remote areas with bad network. We spend sleepless nights waiting for him and when he returns we heave a sigh of relief.’
- ‘My Papa’ by Bersha Kumari
From the Government to corporate India to the film industry, this one-of-a-kind initiative has received widespread and noteworthy appreciation. Take a look at what these well-known personalities have to say about Come Home Papa:
‘To have the daughters of truck drivers contribute stories and anecdotes, which carry the message of road safety was an excellent idea and deserves full support. In addition to road safety, it deftly weaves the issues of education of the girl child and women’s empowerment into it, as well.’
- Nitin Gadkari, Minister for Road Transport, Highways, Shipping, Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation
‘This is a very imaginative and valuable initiative... the first-ever book of stories on road safety by daughters of truck drivers.... A wonderful testimony to the fears and hopes, the joys and sorrows, and above all, the deep connection between these girls and their fathers.’
- Anand Mahindra, Chairman – Mahindra Group
My prayers and best wishes for more and more daughters of the truck driver’s community to make their dream a reality and leave a stamp of class and courage, by forging ahead against all odds.
- Amitabh Bachchan, Actor
To an initiative with such an endearing title and such a beautiful cause, here’s wishing those strong daughters who are making a bright future against all odds, and here’s to their immense love for their fathers! Kudos to the father-daughter spirit! And here’s to wishing the lovely daughters all the very best for their endeavors. And to their papas – just to say... come home safely to your daughters.
- Divya Dutta, Actor
The vision and impact of Come Home Papa is so much more than just a collection of stories. Come Home Papa is spreading a strong message about road safety, not only to the truck drivers but also to other drivers out there, through the voice of the daughters of the truck driver community. Drive safe and come home safe to your families.