Sonali's father died when she was in the womb, as her mother was his second wife, this left Lolita and baby Sonali in a desperate situation. Sonali's difficult childhood shaped her into a determined young woman. As a teenager, she worked to pay for her own schooling, but in the end, could not afford to sit her final exam. Devastated, she left her studies and went in search of work. Sonali was connected with a local NGO that gave her employment in forestry, only paying around AU$12 p/m.

In 2009 Sonali married, and made the journey to Bhubaneswar to be with her husband. Her husband is a painter, and although he tried to support the family - this line of work is very unreliable. Without a steady income to live on, the young family was forced to move to the slum.

In early 2016 UMBC was looking for cooks to join their meals-on-wheels training program. Sonali applied and was given a trial. Sonali now manages the UMBC kitchen. Sonali's mother, Lolita, has joined her in Bhubaneswar, and works as a UMBC housekeeper. Sonali's youngest son, Pradham, attends the creche while his parents work. Their 11-year-old, Badala Kumar, attends the after-school education program and recently entered the art section of the UMBC Community Talent Quest.

Using UMBC loans, Sonali has purchased a paint-mixing machine and a spray paint machine which she rents to her husband. Sonali definitely holds the purse strings, she is quickly paying the loans and the purse is growing!

With the management skills and networks Sonali has gained through UMBC, she plans to start her own business offering a home-made food delivery service. Renting space at UMBC's kitchen, Sonali's product will be healthier and more hygienic than others on the market. Sonali intends to employ her mother and other women in the community when her business grows.