Muskan – Shaping her dreams through the power of education

Twenty-year-old Muskan lived in Tughlakabad slum in South Delhi, one of the new slum areas under Asha's programmatic endeavours. She is the eldest of the four siblings in her family of six members, which included her parents. She lived in a small one-room house, which accommodated life's daily struggles and the dreams and aspirations of the six-member family. Muskan's father worked as a small-time electrician with a meagre earning of 100 pounds per month, which shaped and defined the boundaries of her family’s survival in this ruthless and heartless megacity. The challenges were acute, and the crisis existence of was enormous. The battle was tough, but Muskan always nurtured her dreams to change her life through the power of education. In the bottom of her heart, she always believed there is light at the end of a dark tunnel.

When Muskan was in her class XII, she was almost on the verge of giving up her studies, unable to cope with the challenges. However, hope emerged in Muskan's life when she met the Asha Team leader, visiting her area during one of her rounds. She could not concentrate on her studies because of the poor environment, infrastructure, and lack of academic aid. Moreover, her parents were not interested for her higher education as they wanted to get her married in keeping with the prevailing social and cultural norms in her community. The Asha team convinced her parents to allow Muskan to attend higher education after class XII, which will not only change her destiny but lead to a better life for the family. After multiple home visits and counselling by the Asha team and the student ambassadors, Muskan’s parents agreed, and a new chapter began in her life.

The first visit to the Asha Centre at Kalkaji was almost life-changing. She was welcomed by a committed team with a big smile and passion for transforming lives, young children studying and playing different indoor games, college students using computers to advance their academic journey, a library with a large collection of books and, more importantly, a positive and vibrant environment– full of life and energy. Asha's IT Lab, with advanced laptops, dedicated sitting spaces and advanced Internet facilities, fascinated her. With Asha's academic support, coaching classes, and mock tests to give her the actual feel of the examination, she successfully cleared her Senior Secondary board exams with more than 70% marks. However, Muskan’s parents were reluctant for her university education because of financial constraints and the mindset against higher education for girls.

However, Asha's team again convinced her parents through repeated counselling and assured them that the entire expenses for her education, including college fees and other costs, would be borne by Asha. After her parents agreed, Asha's education team gave her step-by-step guidance for completing the online admission process and got her admitted to a reputed College in Delhi University in Bachelor of Arts (Liberal Arts.). It was a dream come true moment for her. Currently, in her First year Second Semester, she is progressing well in her studies and wants to become a teacher. Muskan is also a dedicated student ambassador and practices the value of "Pay it Forward" by taking classes, motivating students and inspiring her junior counterparts to change their life through the power of education.

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