20-year old Aneesha is taking a breather in the scorching heat having just finished her 5 km long run. She has just cleared her SSC examinations for joining the Delhi police force and preparing for the physical test. It is morning in MahwaKhurd, a remote district in Rajasthan and Aneesha has a really long day ahead of her, she has her B.Ed classes to attend. She already dreams of being deputed to handle law and order situations and her confident. Her poise and confidence inspires one to believe that her dreams will come true.
It is difficult to imagine though, that the timid ,shy and somewhat dispirited girl who entered the MahwaKhurd Learning Center 14 years back is today’s Aneesha.
Her father was an agricultural labourer and mother, a housewife with 3 more siblings at home. She was the eldest.
Her teacher Pinky still remembers the first day of Aneesha in the LC when she entered with a slate clung to her chest rolling the corner of her almost torned frock with her tiny fingers escorted by her mother . Pinky says- ‘she was an underdog, always immersed in herself. It was a frustrating experience for me to make her speak even a few words in the beginning. But I would always see her most excited when any activity, especially the physical activity, is conducted in the learning sessions. She would stand up quietly and within minutes will change into another person- moving rapidly . Also, another striking fact about her was her sense of duty . She was responsible for filling the water pot for the girls’ before they arrived. I never had to remind her even once while she was a student at the LC. Every day before all of us reached we would find Aneesha quietly sitting and waiting for all of us with a water pot neatly filled in and rolled with a wet cloth . She never spoke much but whenever she did there was a qualityfirmness in her voice which was intriguing.
5 years passed and passing grade V from LC she left to study further in the village Government school and then in the nearby town to complete her 12th grade. Responding to a call for joining the Delhi Police Force, Aneesha successfully cleared her written entrance exams, only the physical test remains to be passed.
Fondly remembering her days in LC Aneesha states – ‘had it not been the LC I probably would have remained illiterate and would never be what I am today . I would have been perhaps married off and by now would be the mother of at least 5 children , and she laughs. There was no way I could have gathered the courage to enter school with my humble background. This one chance altered my life forever and I can’t be more grateful!’
Stating this she excuses herself and resumed practicing her sprints – her sprints towards her dreams………………….
In West Bengal’s Purulia District, Akrabad, a dirt-poor tribal village of Sabars, with its 127 families, had faced much ostracism from its colonial-era criminal classification. With a shocking 58% illiteracy rate among females, girls of Akrabad faced a dark future ridden with child marriage and child labour. Of little value to their families, they were frequently forced to collect firewood from forests. The cloud of neglect was heavy.
The story changed with the ‘IIMPACT Girl Child Education Programme’. Girl literacy shot up by 15%, with decreasing instances of child marriage and child labour with parents welcoming the transformation. Even the village boys have taken cue from the girls and have enrolled for schooling. Today, the whole community considers education to be a road towards a better future for their children.
During the pandemic when schools were closed and the Learning centre was discontinued due to Government lockdown the teacher made sure the children are actively engaged with education. This was possible because of the active support of the community members. Be it through phones, digital content, door to door visits, story apps or through Alternative Learning Arrangements the girls continued
An IndiaSpend analysis of indicators on literacy, school enrolment and learning outcomes across four BIMARU States provides a confirmation of IIMPACT’s decision to work in these areas.
It is indeed very hard to digest narratives of young village girls being separated from their families and sent to nearby cities to work and to bring in additional income to their impoverished families. Typically the work they get involved in is that of a domestic help, earning a mere pittance – an amount often much lower than the prescribed minimum wage, often mistreated and physically abused.
Nine year old Hasi Khatun’s story is no different. Hasi, a resident of Sujagolpur village in South 24 Parganas.lost her father while she was studying at the local IIMPACT Learning Centre in class 2. Her mother was left to support 8 children, tirelessly working long hours as domestic help in a nearby city home. A well meaning relative suggested they send young Hasi to nearby Bihar to do the same kind of work for much needed additional income.
This phase in Hasi’s life was no less than torture – she swept, swabbed and washed clothes daily. She slept on the floor. She was not paid and was often mistreated by the employers. She was occasionally both verbally and physically abused by the employers in small but painful ways. If she accidentally broke an object in the house while cleaning she would not be given food for a day- a form of retribution.
When the Teacher and members of the IIMPACT team got news of Hasi’s plight they confronted her mother who reluctantly divulged the truth describing their compulsion to send Hasi out to work in order to add to the family income. Hasi’s mother was advised and she was gradually made to understand the negatives of what Hasi was going through at an age when she should be learning and preparing herself to better her own future.
Hasi’s mother saw reason and relented – she brought Hasi back from the frightening world she had been forced to inhabit. She ensured that Hasi returned to IIMPACT’s Learning Centre picking up threads from where she had left off.
IIMPACT ‘s team worked closely with her and helped gift Hasi her childhood back!
The teachers of IIMPACT are devoted and dedicated. It is because of this that our girls are learning fast and now have good writing skills. A sample of this is given below. These are stories written by our girls themselves.