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If we equip them with the right tools, they will succeed

Aug 14 2018 / Posted in Adolescence

One of our Adolescent program participants, a girl from Kalwa scores 94% in Class 10 exams against all odds.

94% laakar mujhe bahot khushi hui aur Kalwa East mein 94% first hai, I think. SNEHA se main ek saal pehle judi thi. Kuch digests vagera jo mere paas nahi the, main jaake Samta Chawl ke SNEHA Centre se le leti thi. Kaafi helpful tha (I am happy to have scored 94% and I think this is the first time someone from Kalwa East has scored so high! I enrolled with SNEHA one year back and it was helpful to get access to books/digests that I could not procure on my own. I could refer to these at the Samta Chawl SNEHA Centre).

16-year-old Sayana lives with her parents and 6 siblings. Due to financial constraints, her parents could not send their two older children to school, but they were determined to get the other children educated. They managed to enrol Sayana and her younger siblings in school.

Despite all odds, with a lot of hard work and dedication, Sayana has made us all proud by scoring 94% in her SSC exams. When we asked her what she wanted to do next, she replied “मैंने सोचा था मैं आर्मी में जाउंगी, फाइटर पायलट बनना चाहती हूँ, मगर मेरी हाइट काम है, तो अब मैं कुछ और सोचने वाली हूँ” [Translation: I want to join the army and become a fighter pilot, but I’m not that tall, so shall think of something else]

Her mother said, “इस को घर के काम, खाना बनाना या कपड़े धोना पसंद नहीं, मुझसे पूछती रहती है के मैं इतना काम क्यों करती हूँ. मैं कहती हूँ, तुम अपनि पढ़ाई पर ध्यान दो, ऐन अपने काम पूरे करती हूँ...सिर्फ ये समझ में नहीं आता के इस के पढ़ाई के लिए पैसे कहाँ से लाऊं”. [Translation: She doesn’t like to cook or wash clothes. She keeps asking me why I work so much. I tell her – you concentrate on your studies, let me concentrate on my work. We just keep wondering where the money will come from.]

During community visits, the EHSAS (Empowerment, Health and Sexuality of Adolescents) team in Kalwa gathered that many children do not have access to resources and a favourable environment to study. To answer this need, a community centre was transformed into a resource centre. Anjali Pore, Programme Coordinator in Kalwa, says, “Children here live in small houses, hence it is impossible for them to find a quiet place to study. All of them do not have the opportunity to take personal tuitions and neither do they have money to buy expensive digests. We have created a corner in our centre and stocked it with various books ranging from school digests to social and self-awareness guides. Children are free to either sit at the centre and study or take them home and return it after three days. This has really helped the students”.

Sayana narrates her initial interaction with SNEHA: “शुरुआत में बहुत अजीब लगता था, मैं सोचती थी ये लोग इन चीज़ों के बारे में क्यों बातें करते हैं? अम्मी से पूछती थी तो वह शर्मा जाते थे और जवाब नहीं देते थे...मुझे लगा मैं अब नहीं जाऊंगी स्नेहा में, लेकिंग दीदी ने मुझे समझाया और मैं जाती रही...धीरे धीरे समझ में आया के ज़िन्दगी बेहतर तरीके से जीने के लिए ये जानकारी ज़रूरी है और मैंने सारे मीटिंग्स में हिस्सा लिया...मुझे अब बहुत सारी समझ है औरतों के हकूक के बारे में”[Translation: I felt very odd in the beginning, I wondered why these people are talking about all these things. If I ask my mother, she gets shy and doesn’t say anything further. I thought I should stop going. But Didi convinced me to continue attending the sessions. Then I realised that I should be aware of all these things so I started attending all the sessions. I’ve managed to gain a lot of knowledge about women’s right.”]

While it is one thing to score very high, a child can remain confused about the future course. Sayana is at that juncture of inability to make an informed decision regarding higher studies and career. The SNEHA team is now trying to connect Sayana to an Aptitude Testing Centre, to help her evaluate her potential and career options.