Sukhi Kanwar, 18, is a Team Balika volunteer in a village in Rajasthan, one of India’s largest states and also a region with very great gender disparity. The Team Balika is a group of village volunteers that mentors girls and also works closely with the girl leaders in schools who are primarily adolescent girls. Sukhi is a highly active and motivated Team Balika, working with Educate Girls to enhance girls’ enrollment, education outcomes and encourage adolescent girls to become the leaders of tomorrow.
Sukhi lives with her father Mr Bhanwar Singh, a marginal farmer, in the village of Pratapgarh, in the Pali District of Rajasthan. Sukhi’s mother died of illness when Sukhi was just 2 years old. Like most young girls in Rajasthan, Sukhi too is married but rarely lives with her husband. Even though she didn’t go to school as a kid, Sukhi hasn’t given up her dream of getting an education and she plans to clear her higher secondary exams this year.
When Sukhi first became a Team Balika volunteer, people in her village laughed at her because of her newfound interest in girls’ education issues, and mocked her for trying to change things in her village. But her father was always very supportive of her work and helped motivate her to achieve her goals. A few days after joining Educate Girls she had already motivated five families to support girls’ education and enrolled five girls in nearby schools. The same people who mocked her now respect her and now readily accept what she says.
There was an interesting incident recently that made Sukhi a role model of all the other Team Balika members. Sukhi had identified two girls in the village of Mohra who had never attended school. She convinced their parents to send them to school, but there was an unexpected obstacle in the way. The school headmaster refused admission to them on the grounds that the school was already in session and that the girls could come back in the next academic year.
But Sukhi is not a girl to take things lying down. She immediately contacted Educate Girls' regional office in Pali and spoke to staff member Miss Harshwardhane. She advised Sukhi to ask the headmaster to state his reasons for refusing the girls admission in writing. Sukhi marched up to the headmaster's office the next day and demanded a written statement. Shocked by her confidence and taken aback by her complete lack of fear, he admitted the girls in the school.
We hope all our Team Balika members and adolescent girl Leaders are inspired by Sukhi and overcome obstacles with the same determination as she did!