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"I have seen borrowers standing at our door aggressively knocking to barge in. I and my three younger siblings used to hide under the only bed, which was partially broken, we had, to keep us from them," recalls Shivani.

The little girl has grown up suffering from grave poverty and hunger at her shanty in Tanki Number-2, Udhyog Nagar near Asha's Punjabi Bagh slum community.

Shivani in front of her father's shop in Udhyog Nagar, Tanki No.2 near Asha's Punjabi Bagh slum community

Shivani in front of her father's shop in Udhyog Nagar, Tanki No.2 near Asha's Punjabi Bagh slum community

Shivani's father is a daily wage worker in one of the factories located in Udhyog Nagar. Due to the severe financial crisis, her father is sometimes forced to borrow money from friends, relatives and local moneylenders that makes it easy for them to harass the poor family from time to time. "The most haunted dreams I've ever had is the moneylenders attacking my family. Due to the loans we could not pay back as of yet, we have been made to feel like an outcast by our neighbours; I have become used to it now," says Shivani with a pale face.

"I remember one day when my little siblings were all asleep and I was preparing for the final exams of class ninth, a group of several men broke into our house and assaulted my already bed-ridden father for he could not pay back the borrowed money due to a severe illness. The incident imprinted on my mind and I could not study for the rest of the days which took a toll on my result. I failed in Mathematics in one of the internal exams," says Shivani.

This was a time she came across Asha. She went to visit the nearby centre one day as suggested by a friend. Shivani says, "I was welcomed with open arms by the Asha team and students. This was after years, I felt being embraced." She started visiting Asha every single day since then. With support from her family and guidance by Asha team and Ambassadors, she scored well in her class ninth and ranked amongst the top five in her class.

As time passed by, she grew as a studious and sincere student. She scored well in her school-leaving exams as well.

"I can never forget how my extended family helped me during my bad days. I was diagnosed with Tuberculosis in Class-12. The entire Asha team had helped me in getting treatment and did not let me lose hope for my career," quoted Shivani.

Despite the difficulties, Shivani came out strong and confident. She now has secured a seat in bachelor’s in liberal arts in SPM College of the University of Delhi.

We wish her luck for a good career opportunity ahead and hope she makes a good living and takes her family away from slums, soon.

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