Rumana’s father and mother had an arranged marriage at a very young age. Her Mother’s family was settled in Delhi for 50 years while her Father had migrated from Badayun, UP. After their marriage, Rumana’s parents also settled down in the Chanderpuri slum colony.
Her mother started work as a seamstress which provided her an earning of Rs.500 (6.97 USD/5.4 £) a month. While her father started working at a shoe factory where he earned Rs.2000 (27.89 USD/21.59 £) a month. Over the next few years, her mother gave birth to 3 sons and 1 daughter.
However, their earnings remained the same and this made it highly difficult to provide food every day for their large family of 6. Lack of financial stability meant there was less scope for education. Rumana’s elder brothers studied till class 8th and 9thand started working early to help with the family income.
Around this time, her mother got associated with Asha as a Mahila Mandal (Women’s Group) member. She also enrolled young Rumana to become a member of the Bal Mandal (Child’s Group). As a Bal Mandal member, Rumana was opened to a new life of participating in events and rallies hosted by the Asha community center. She was motivated to pursue an education from the Asha team who also counseled her parents on the importance of education. Rumana joined a school and studied till the 12th standard with utmost joy and diligence. ‘My childhood was brightened after I joined Asha. I have thoroughly enjoyed my childhood by spending so many of those days at the community center’ says a smiling Rumana.
However, things hit a dead-end soon. Her elder brothers decided that Rumana was too young to travel alone to college each day. When the Asha team heard this, they tried their best to counsel Rumana’s brothers to allow her to receive a Bachelors Degree. This was not easy as her brothers were very adamant and refused to budge. After 2 years of continuous counseling and the never give up attitude of the Asha team slowly there was progress made.
Asha team members introduced Rumana and her family to Asha student girl ambassadors who shared their personal life stories, struggles and how they overcame them with the help of education and Asha. With time, Rumana’s brothers agreed for Rumana to study further. In the year 2016, Asha team members and Rumana filled up the Delhi University admission forms. Rumana successfully got admission into Zakir Husain College in a Bachelor’s course studying Sanskrit (ancient Indian language) and Political Science.
Today, Rumana has finished her Bachelor’s degree with 1st division. Her college experience has provided her with knowledge and exposure to various things. ‘I used to not even go out of the house, just traveling alone to college every day has made me an independent and empowered woman.’ Says Rumana with a big smile. Rumana is currently pursuing a computer course in designing along with working as a seamstress to polish her skills in designing and tailoring. She hopes to run her boutique within the slum colony someday. She also wishes to pursue a fashion diploma shortly to help achieve this dream of hers.