Mala (on right) with her sister
16 Years old Mala* from Mahabatnagar village (South 24 Parganas, West Bengal) studies in tenth standard at the nearby ‘Mahabatnagar Kailashpur Mission Siksha Sadan’. She is associated with ‘Nayantara’ programme since 2017. Steeped with financial adversity and uncertain living Mala is struggling to establish her identity with determination and hard work. Since she joined ‘Nayantara’ programme she learnt the value of self esteem and essentiality of being educated to establish it.
Mala stays with her family in a mud house with two isolated rooms thatched with plastic sheets and straw. The house is located at a lower elevation from the main village road. Thus they often face problems of mobility and waterborne diseases rising from water logging in rainy days.
Mala’s family comprises of six members, her parents, younger brother, younger sister, and grandmother.
Mala’s father Binoy, 40 years, runs a small eatery of evening snacks in the vicinity. They don’t have any land to cultivate. Binoy tries out little cultivation of seasonal vegetables and paddy by hiring small tracts of agricultural land. He being the only member of the family thus could sustain only a meager amount to carry on their expenses. On an average he earns around INR 3000 from the eatery-shop. Besides, the seasonal cropping also contributes to their yearly food grains. Binoy manages the additional expenses by borrowing money from money lenders at high interest rate. However as he says he manages to pay back within 4 months.
Mala’s mother Kamini (36 Years) and grandmother Sabita (70 Years) look after the household chore and work hard to sustain the family. Both of them also earn a very little amount seasonally by working as daily wage workers for post agricultural activity like boiling or breaking paddy after harvest.
Kamini recurrently falls ill of mental disease. Initially it was overlooked. Then at a severe condition she was taken to a local exorciser, locally called ‘Gunin’. Finally she was examined and diagnosed properly by a doctor around 6 months back. Since then she is under proper medication and now doing well.
Mother’s recurrent mental ailment deeply impacted Mala and her two younger siblings. However with recovery and proper addressal they are regaining their indomitable spirit to grow. Both of her younger siblings are in junior school at the local ‘Mahabatnagar Kailashpur Mission Siksha Sadan’ school.
Mala being the eldest daughter takes up the responsibility of household works, besides taking care of her mother during period of ailments. She also supports her father in running the eatery. Thus they are struggling with ill fate and consequences.
The consistent support from ‘Nayantara’ has boosted and continually supported Mala in her journey to a brighter future that she dreams always. The ailment of her mother touched Mala so deeply that she started aspiring to be a Medical Student which will heal all their pains.
*All names changed to protect identity of the individuals
Mala with her parents and siblings
With her brother
Mala (on left) playing badminton with her friend
With her friends in activity session