Girls from the slum attending college
Today I met six girls who want a different future for themselves.
I came across them in August 2016 when I was visiting Tiljala SHED. I was invited to go along to a session with final year school girls at the Anjuman Islamic School for Girls, one of very few government schools exclusively for Urdu speaking girls and in a very deprived area of the city. These girls are from families who generally share a single room, no toilet facilities and live a very traditional life: little freedom, no contact with boys and the expectation of early marriage and a life of poverty, drudgery and probably domestic violence.
Our six girls were part of a class of 185 students. Yes really!
Tiljala SHED had invited Sofia to speak to the girls. Sofia was from the same community as these girls but had defied all expectation and had completed school and university and was now on the civil service fast track - unheard of for a muslim girl from the slum. She spoke eloquently. She looks like a Bollywood star. You could have heard a pin drop.
After her presentation, Shafkat, who runs Tiljala SHED, invited any girls who aspired to follow Sofia's example to come along to Tiljala SHED for free coaching in the run up to their final school exams. The following Sunday 20 girls turned up. A few fell away over the weeks but these six remained. They all passed their exams and are now at Bhawanipore University in Central Kolkata. Most of their 185 classmates are now married.
Today we got together and I wanted to know how they were getting on. Are they integrating? Do they enjoy the work? What do they want to do after college?
They love the work.They really feel integrated - which is amazing for slum girls in a very middle class environment.Two of them are playing basketball. And they ALL want to sit the civil service exams.
They really really deserve this break - for themselves but also for all the other girls who will follow.
It will cost about £14 a month per girl provide the coaching they will need for this opportunity. The girls have already defied the odds: they have remained in education; they have passed all their school exams - when most children from this background leave school before aged 14; they are not married; they don't have children (I met a 34 year old grandmother and her 6 year old grand daughter today); and they have persuaded their families to let them attend a co-educational institution.They are smashing it!
Please consider a donation to empower these girls. They have the grit, the intelligence and the determination to win.
A regular donation of £14 could get one of these girls into her dream job. Among their parents are a tuktuk driver, a maidservant (earning less than £25 a month), an embroiderer who has lost his sight and can no longer work. They support their daughters' ambitions but cannot possibly pay for it. Can you?
Sofia addresses the girls in Aug 2016
Shafkat invites girls to come for coaching
A classroom at the school
A class of 185 attentive girls