Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India

by FFLV USA
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Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Prevent Child Marriage, Educate 180 Girls in India
Rita with her children
Rita with her children

Rita was married at 15, lured into the idea of new beautiful clothes and gifts. Being from an underpriviledged family, she was never sent to school, and was as naive as girls usually are at that age. Little did she know what life had in store for her. Rita's husband passed away in the year 2010. A single mother of two, She struggled to bring up her two angelic daughters aged 3 and 5 that time. As the sole bread earner of the house Rita had to leave her children alone at home in a hut without a door and go out to do work. 

One day she came across Food for Life Vrindavan. Her daughters were immediately taken in the school and she was offered a cleaning job at the office.

Rita lived in a temporary hut previously, that used to have a metal rooftop and used to be as hot as an oven in summers, with FFLV’s help she was able to rent a room for herself and her daughters where she lives now. She was also given help to get a cooking gas. Along with a monthly salary for her work, she is also given monthly rent and rations from FFLV. Both of her girls are bright and very well behaved students at school. Rita does not want them to face the hardships that she had to in her life. She has great hopes for her daughters and really believes that education will change things for them.

Rita has resolved that she wont let this curse of early marriage become the fate of her daughters. We are with Rita, and we thank you all who are supporting thousands of such families through your contributions. It is making a lot of difference in their lives. Thank you!!

Rita with her children
Rita with her children
Rita's Daughter Bhumi In School
Rita's Daughter Bhumi In School
Laxmi's Younger Daughter Laxmi In School
Laxmi's Younger Daughter Laxmi In School

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Laxmi at work
Laxmi at work

Many of you must wonder what the girls do after they finish school. Do they get married? The answer is no! In fact, in the past 5 years, 97% of our schoolgirls have opted for higher studies and 88% continue to finish their college education. Many girls take up jobs along with studies to begin supporting their families immediately. They are changing the way the society thinks about girls.  

We are sharing with you the story of Laxmi-a 19-year-old girl that graduated in the year 2016. She had some learning difficulties as she was slightly dyslexic but her lack of abilities more than made up with her creative side. Today she is popularly known as "The Mehandi Designer” in all of Vrindavan because of her talent of making beautiful Henna Tattoos. Things were not always good for Laxmi. In an interview, she shared her heart with us and made us realize how important education, encouragement, and opportunity is for each girl.  

Q: Tell me about your house & family?

Laxmi: In my family, I have my mother, an elder brother, a younger brother & a younger sister. We live in a rented room in Vrindavan.

 Q: And your father?

 Laxmi: (Hesitantly) When I was young, my father was not very supportive emotionally or financially. He had a drinking problem and there were quarrels in the house every day. The tension grew so much that one-day my mother had to leave the house along with all of us.

(Her eyes tearing up) We had to sleep in the street for many nights. After that, we rented in a slum nearby. My mother never went to school and was married at the age of 14. She did not know any work other than cleaning. She started working in the nearby houses to maintain the family. There were days when we slept hungry stomach; there were days when we stood in long lines of food distribution to get one proper meal. Those days were rough but things changed when someone told us about FFLV.

Q: Do you remember your first day at school?

 Laxmi: I was seven when I first came to the school. I don’t recall much, but I still remember my first meal at the school, so satisfying!

Q: How did things change for you after FFLV?

Laxmi: All of us were suddenly in school, dressed neatly, getting a proper lunch. We started getting food rations and rent from the school too that helped us greatly.

Q: How did you get interested in art?

Laxmi: One day I just randomly made a card with some flowers on it to present to a teacher, and she appreciated it so much, she told everyone about it. I had never felt so special before. That greatly encouraged me and I started taking art seriously. I opted for embroidery classes in the school and got better at it each day.

One time, some schoolgirls told me that they were going to apply mehndi to some guests and I joined them. That was the first time I applied Mehandi.

Q: So how did that go?

Laxmi: Horrible! one woman told me that I was quite slow and not very neat in my work. I felt really sad, however, I did not give up, in fact, I started practicing so much that I was practicing Mehandi every minute I got, even during lunchtime.

Q: How did you become so popular?

Laxmi: It was all because of the encouragement from the school. Rupa Prabhu always introduced me to anyone who was interested in applying Mehandi. This encouraged me, helped me financially, & also gave exposure to my talent. He really believed in each one of us and that is what has always inspired me to do better.

Q: What was your proud moment?

Laxmi: I felt really proud when I recently bought a scooter with the money that I earned on my own and took my mother for a drive around Vrindavan.

Q: What are your plans for the future?

Laxmi: I want to be a renowned beautician. (Jokingly) Then buy a very long Car and a Big House for my mother. I just want to see her happy again!

Q: Any plans of Marriage?

Laxmi: I have no plans of marriage until I feel satisfied about my career.  

Q: What message will you give to other girls in school?

Laxmi: We can do anything we want if we have an education. We should be very grateful to all these people trying to help us. Especially to our sponsors who are giving us this life changing opportunity & we must make the most of it.

Along with her business & college, Laxmi is currently teaching Mehandi art to other girls at Sandipani Muni School. She will soon be enrolling in a professional beautician course with the help of FFLV.

Laxmi is an expert at Mehndi
Laxmi is an expert at Mehndi
Laxmi with her new Scooter!
Laxmi with her new Scooter!
Laxmi with her Family
Laxmi with her Family

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Girls teaching
Girls teaching

Dear Friends,

I hope you all are well. Sharing a story with you to make you smile.

At Sandipani Muni School we are always trying to give the girls the best and helping them in ways they feel confident about themselves. We have been running an english reading program for the past many years. This is an additional program apart from the regular academics and focuses on the girls who are good at english and want to improve it even further. 

The head teacher of the program Damini told us that our English reading programme has 120 kids aged 7-12 years. We are helping them enhance their English reading skills. Though this programme has been supported with volunteers from overseas but this year we didn’t get as many volunteers as expected and were in the fix as to what to do?, when we saw some of our senior group kids started to help the junior ones. When asked if they would like to do this regularly, their faces lit up and they said yes!

These lovely, dedicated, punctual and sincere girls has been helping since July of 2016 which has help build confidence for themselves and they feel so happy doing this programme. We feel so proud that these girls took in upon themselves to give back to the other school kids what they have learnt. This is also very encouraging for us see these girls help each other. 

Sharing the names: Gunjun, Chanchal, Seema, Tanu, Babli, Chanchal(Yes we have two Chanchals )

Thank you to all of you who support this cause. Apart from education the girls are also imbibing good values to help others and give back with what they have learnt. Its small but huge in its own way! :)

 

Girls Teaching 2
Girls Teaching 2

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Girls prepare to perform
Girls prepare to perform

Dear Friends, 

Recently we had our annual school function also called Kartik Utsav. The evening was full of excitement. The girls had practiced for months for their performances(Dance, Drama, Singing etc). They were about to put a display of all the skills they had learnt at the school. The groups of guests were flowing in dressed in beautiful attires. Everyone looked forward to the wonderful evening. Everything was beautifully decorated, lamps lit the school corridors, lights hung in the balcony, colorful rangoli decorations covered the ground. In all this beauty, what attracted the crowd the most however, was a hand made product stall that contained hand made items by our school girls that were made using waste paper!

The girls had been making these products for months. They used waste paper, buttons, bottles etc to create decorative lamps, greeting cards, home decore products etc. The girls came up with this idea voluntarily and with the help of their teachers they were able to organize this stall. They not only wanted to sell these products but also wanted to give a message out to be environment friendly and resuse paper. 

The girls had also put products with their hand embroidery work that people loved. There were many performances by the children including Karate, Classical dances etc. Another presentation that impressed the audience was a drama on Clean India. The children performed this drama to send the message to society how important it is to keep our surroundings and our country clean.

It amazes us what putting a girl into school can do, and if they get trained in vocational skills, that is like a cherry on a cake. At FFLV, girls get both education and skills and this is made possible by your contribution. 

Education makes us sufficient, skills make us efficient.

Sharing some photos of the event. 

Kind Regards

Rupa Raghunath Das

Folk Dance Performance
Folk Dance Performance
Clean India Play
Clean India Play
Odissi Dancers
Odissi Dancers

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Neetu before joining the school
Neetu before joining the school

From a small tree, a mighty trunk may grow- Aeschylus

 

We take pride to share this story with you of a girl who joined us when she was but a little bud. Over the years she grew in the courtyard of our school. Little did we realize that this flower would blossom so beautifully…

 

“Being terrified but going ahead and doing what must be done—that's courage"

 

Neetu stated this very well in the incident below.

 

Neetu (16 yrs) was returning home in the evening, from her food distribution service at school. She was riding her bicycle when she noticed that a young lady (who was an expat) was being followed and harassed by an auto rickshaw driver. The road was lonely and suddenly the man pulled that lady into his vehicle and rode off. The lady was panicking and asking the man to stop and let her get down. Neetu could just not stand there and watch. Seeing no one around to turn to, she followed that rickshaw on her bicycle and saw that the rickshaw had pulled over at a very lonely place. Neetu didn’t wait for anything; she picked up a big stick and struck the driver from behind. The driver shocked and in pain, hurled abuses at her, but Neetu didn’t care. She took the lady by her hand and asked her to sit behind her on her bicycle and off she went. 

 

She dropped the lady in a safer area. Teary eyed and grateful, that lady offered Neetu her silver bangles as a token of appreciation, but she refused. The whole situation was so overwhelming that no names were exchanged. It was a gesture of care from one girl to another. 

 

The next day she shared this incident with her friends and teachers. We informed the principals who awarded her for her bravery in front of the whole school. She shared the incident with other girls who felt really inspired hearing this. 

 

Neetu made us so proud and we thought of sharing this incident with you all who are contributing towards the education and grooming of many these Neetus in our school.

 

About Neetu and her family:

 

In her family, her father was born in Agra and is currently an unemployed carpenter. Her mother was born near Kolkata, West Bengal. They moved to Vrindavan where her mother joined Food for Life Vrindavan as a cleaner.

 

Her older sister Poonam, who graduated from Sandipani Muni School last year in 2015, is now in college. 

 

Neetu has an outgoing personality and is known for her great sense of humor amongst her friends. During evenings she attends the free meal distribution where she helps in serving the street kids. She is a very good dancer and actively participates in stage plays and dance programs. 

Neetu in her classroom
Neetu in her classroom
Neetu Dancing :)
Neetu Dancing :)
Neetu at Evening meal distribution
Neetu at Evening meal distribution
Neetu getting awarded for her bravery
Neetu getting awarded for her bravery
Neetu sharing her incident with other girls
Neetu sharing her incident with other girls

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FFLV USA

Location: Magnolia, TX - USA
Website:
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Project Leader:
Ineke Zondag
Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh India
$80,478 raised of $98,000 goal
 
2,033 donations
$17,522 to go
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