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Beacon of inspiration

Updated: May 24

Nineteen year old Seema is an inspirational example of why our campaigns for girls' education remain a priority. As a child, her family were too caught up in their own problems and had very little interest in educating their daughters. While Seema's sister managed to last until 5th standard, Seema was taken out of school after 1st standard. Meanwhile her two brothers were fully supported to continue their education.

Her home life remained unstable and when her mother died and her father remarried a woman uninterested in bringing up another woman's daughter, Seema was placed in the care system. She was then moved from institute to institute covering many miles of Maharashtra, and with a brief return back to her family where they started planning her child marriage, she finally ended up at Snehalaya.

With no reading, writing or other basic educational skills she expressed to our counsellors how she had always felt held back. Our team encouraged her to start trying to read barakhadi and couplets, books and newspapers, and with their help, she slowly started to recognise letters and her interest in reading and continuing her education grew.

Having broken contact with her family and stopped school so young she had very little memory of it or knowledge of which standard she had reached. After a lot of detective work from our Snehadhar team, including visits to her native village where we discovered her birth had never been registrated and visits to the school board to try to locate her school leaving certificate, we finally had everything we needed to admit her to a local school to continue her studies.

Based on her age she was admitted into the 8th standard of at J.K. Bhai Sathya Night High School, attending two hours of classes each night. Her class was made up of 20 other women who had also experienced a huge gap in their education and 10 younger men. She really enjoyed the class, especially Hindi and the school is flexible with additional classes for those who need extra support in basic skills.

We are really proud of Seema, she admits she was slightly nervous about returning to the classroom after so much time, however with a little support, she continued to work tirelessly throughout the year to improve her reading and writing skills. Her efforts have certainly paid off, Seema came second in her class with marks of 57.22%.

Throughout, Seema has been motivated by her dreams of joining the police. She also understands how important an education is whatever you do, saying: "Whatever your job, you lose earning power and value if you are unable to read, I don't want to be left behind."

Seema is now considering whether to continue in the night school or take admission into regular school. Whatever she choses, we are confident that she will continue to thrive and succeed. Her journey is definitely an inspiration to others considering returning to education and a reminder that with hard work, dedication and support, anything is possible.

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