Education opens doors for a bright future

Sweta resides in Indra Camp slum located in North-East Delhi. Her parents were migrants from Uttar Pradesh. As a child, her father Kanchan Lal was studious. However, due to poor financial conditions, at the age of 10, he started working in sugarcane fields assisting his father. This left a deep hole in him and unfulfillment for education.

At the young age of 15, Kanchan Lal migrated to New Delhi in search of work. He did a few odd jobs before getting a stable job at an iron factory. He got an arranged marriage at the age of 22 and soon fathered 4 children, 3 daughters, and a son. To gain better income Kanchan Lal started a small business of buying and selling iron within the slum. He rented a small shop, earning a sum of Rs.15000 (210.56 USD or 163.08 £) a month to support his family.

Sweta’s eldest sister, Vinita was the first in the family who was inclined towards education. Kanchan Lal was supportive and believed that all his children should receive an education which he could not. However, Vinita was not just the first to receive a college education from her family but the entire Indra Camp slum as well. This did not sit right with the neighbours, men and women from the slum, who continuously taunted Vinita for her decision to step out of home every day.

Vinita was an inspiration and a hero to her younger sister Sweta. Inspired by Vinita’s boldness, bravery, and courage, Sweta herself was empowered when it came time for her to go to school. However, facing the daily taunts of the slum community members along with the eve-teasing started to take a toll on her. Sweta and her sisters took the trouble to report most cases to the police however things did not improve. This caused Sweta mental trauma and she was very disturbed as she finally realized she was fighting a never-ending battle against narrow mindsets.

Sweta associated herself with Asha in the 12th standard. Through Asha’s assistance, Sweta was able to get admission in Miranda College, one of the best colleges under Delhi University. ‘After associating with Asha, I got the opportunity to learn to communicate better as I was an introvert earlier. I also gained self-confidence as I interacted and took responsibilities for events, etc.’ recalls Sweta. She soon immersed herself into her college, studies and providing coaching every Sunday to the class 12 Asha students of commerce and arts.

‘Asha and my sister opened the doorway to education not just for me but for all my siblings. I would like to pursue an M.A in History and become a Professor of History.’ says Sweta. Currently, Sweta has finished her BA in History and is preparing for entrance exams for Masters. She also volunteers to teach Computers to young Asha students at the Peeragarhi slum Asha Centre, 3 times a week.

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