Zeenat has always dreamed of becoming a lawyer. She has defied all the prejudice and the cultural expectations that she will marry young and give up on education. She is almost there but she needs your help.
Zeenat lives with her mother two sisters and one brother in Mallikpur a suburb near Kolkata. She comes from a broken family as her parents do not live together. They separated a long time back when Zeenat was very young. At present Zeenat has completed her BA and LLB. When she was in class XII she came to us for sponsorship as she was facing hardship to meet her educational expenses. She has studied hard and slowly and steadily her dreams are all but realized.
Zeenat is now working under a senior advocate to gain experience - for which she is not paid. After work she gives tuition to students for which she earns a meagre Rs 700.00 (£7 or USD8.50) per month to help support her family.
Zeenat's mother used to work in a garment manufacturing factory but she lost her job during Covid - 19 pandemic. This has added to the family woes. The family is now almost fully dependent on Zeenat's uncle to survive.
In order to start to practise as a lawyer and to begin to earn money, Zeenat needs a licence from the Bar Council. This will costs Rs 10000.00. For £100 or £121 you can help Zeenat achieve her dream of practising the law and supporting her family. This is why we help these young women. They have their dreams but they need your support.
Priya wants to work in a bank. This is a huge ambition. Priya’s mother is illiterate and earns a few rupees making paper bags and packets. Her father has a small stationery shop attached to the house. Total household income per month is 6000 rupees. Just £64 or USD73. Priya is a bright and enthusiastic 18 year old who joined our girl sponsorship programme 3 years ago when her parents were no longer able to support her education. Since joining the programme Priya has been able to stay in school and this year passed her class XII board exams and was admitted to university to study for a Bachelor of Commerce. Girls like Priya, first generation learners from very poor backgrounds, find it very difficult to fulfil their dreams. Poverty and social pressure drive them into early marriage where they simply repeat the cycle of illiteracy, poverty and drudgery endured by their mothers. Priya is fortunate that her family share her desire to make a better life and sought out the help Priya needs.
With continued support of about £30 a month, Priya will complete her degree and then take banking exams. With a good job she will be financially independent and able to make her own life decisions. It is a priceless gift.
There are many many more girls like Priya who need your support. Please consider a regular donation of £30 to give another girl a chance of freedom, choice and financial independence.
In May 2022 I visited our projects in Kolkata for the first time since February 2020. After the COVID lockdowns and the extensive school closures I was concerned about how the girls had coped.
In fact, thanks to your generosity we were able to supply the girls with smartphones and they have all been able to ride out the setbacks and continue with their education.
We now have a number of girls studying at university with big career ambitions. We also have a number of girls (and boys) who are working through their school exams and want to go on to university. So while I was in Kolkata we took the opportunity to bring in a group of our 16 – 18 year olds as well as some of our undergraduates for a meeting, an opportunity to share their experiences. Every one of those young people is a first generation learner from a very poor family. The girls have to resist society’s (and often their family’s) pressures to marry or to enter the workplace to supplement the family income.
The meeting was tremendously moving. One by one our undergraduate girls stood up and told the 40 assembled youngsters about their journeys. There were many tears.
Sakina told how her mother had recently died and how she is struggling to stay in college now that her biggest supporter is no longer there. She misses her mum but is determined to battle on and complete her education.
Zeenat lives in great poverty in Mallickpore a little way outside urban Kolkata. Her family is very poor but after years of struggle and thanks to your generosity she is now a qualified lawyer.
Tabassum lives alone with her mother. She is currently studying for her Masters and wants to go on and train as a teacher. But they are very poor and her mother was working as a maidservant to support her. So Tabassum now does several hours tutoring a week so that her mother doesn’t have to do this exploitative and humiliating work.
Another girl told us her mother is so sick that she herself is going out to do her mother’s maidservant work for her – on top of her education.
The meeting was a great success, especially as Zainab had made a cake which was shared out between us all. I hope that the youngsters can get together regularly to share their experiences and encourage one another. Despite the hardships these girls endure, their resourcefulness and determination shone through. And I could see that the aspiring college students were absolutely rapt.
Your donations ensure that all the educational costs are covered. Bags, books, stationery, fees, extra tuition and any necessary nutrition and medical help. But life is terribly hard even with sponsorship – these girls are fighters and with your support will battle on.
Zeenat, now a qualified lawyer, shares her journey
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