On the face of it, Shabnam’s circumstances sound as bad as anyone’s. She lives in the Darapara slum sharing 2 small rooms (80 sq ft) with 10 other family members. Her father was an embroiderer but has almost lost his sight and cannot work anymore. Her mother is a maidservant, earning just Rs2000 (£20) per month. Her brother is a salesman bringing in Rs 6000 (£60) per month. He himself has two severely disabled children. The family is originally from Bihar and are respectable, my colleagues tell me: they would rather starve than beg. But on this tiny income of just about £80 a month they regularly face starvation. Thanks to Tiljala SHED’s emergency food programme, the whole family receives rations occasionally.
Meeting Shabnam in the Tiljala SHED office recently, I would never have guessed what terrible hardship she suffers. For Shabnam, defying the odds, is at college and studying to become a lawyer.
“My first priority is my family” she told me. “The first thing I’ll do when I start earning is release my mother from her job”. She said, “I’ll give all the happiness to my mother and father because they deserve it”.
Thanks to the generosity of Bhawanipore College where she has a scholarship, to a private benefactor and to extra tuition and lots of moral support from staff at Tiljala SHED, Shabnam is getting close to realising her dream. She passes all her exams with flying colours.
It is the combination of Shabnam’s drive and ambition and the external support she gets from Tiljala SHED and donors like you, that leads to success. As a qualified lawyer, Shabnam will change many more lives.
Please consider a generous donation to this excellent project so that we can empower more women and girls like Shabnam.