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Why did Seema want to study?

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

Seema lives in Sanjay Nagar, one of Ahmednagar’s slums where we operate. She is from a tribal community where, before our intervention, girls would only stay in education until 4th or 5th standard and would be married by ages 14 to 15.

Seema saw many girls getting married like this, including her elder sister who was a child bride. As she approached her teen years, Seema was terrified she would suffer the same fate.

She approached our Balbavan team who counseled her parents about the laws around marriage and shared Seema’s wishes to continue studying. They explained the benefits of education that would enable her to stand on her own feet. They also advised that if they forced her to marry, they would encourage Seema to inform the authorities. Once they understood the law and that to marry their daughter would be a crime they agreed not to marry her. Seema also realised that continuing her education would give her more options in life and having escaped marriage, she committed to going to school every day.

Seema embraced school, where she made friends with many boys and girls from different communities. She enthusiastically participated in every activity and was often number one in sports and attended our Balbhavan after-school classes. Whenever she had a problem, she would come to our Balbhavan team immediately and would not go home until the problem was resolved.

Building confidence, Seema started to explore the independence education was giving her. Traditionally, the women in her community wear Punjabi dresses, but Seema wanted to dress in her own style. There was a backlash from her close-knit community who called her names for the way she dressed and couldn’t understand why she wasn’t married yet as girls her community were not allowed to pursue higher education. None of this deterred Seema and no matter what people said, she would not stop her education. Having listened to us, her father now fully supported her decision and wanted his daughter to study, make a name for herself in society and stand on her own feet.

Seema wanted to break from tradition and provide a role model for other girls in her community. Initially, not all of the girls studied or were interested in education, but as they saw Seema participating in all the programs and games of the Balbhavan and receiving rewards for it, more of the younger boys and girls also started coming to our Balbhavan. Seeing their children flourish, slowly, the people of the old society started seeing the positives in Seema, and more parents started sending their children to our classes.

Presently she represents the girls of Balbhavan and her Shikal Kari Samaj as well as working as a team member in our PMAY project to transform Sanjay Nagar into an ideal slum and is purchasing one of the new homes for her family. She is a shining example to her whole community as well as all of our staff and beneficiaries. She takes part in all activities and has taken over the financial responsibility of her house and family while also pursuing further education. Seema is an inspiration to all.

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