Mala’s story of dedication and hard work

19-year-old Mala dwells in Asha’s Mayapuri slum community since her birth. The hunt to earn a dignified livelihood brought Mala’s parents to this ghetto in the Western part of Delhi from a small village Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh some 25 years back. Since then, the family is settled in a rented unventilated house on a narrow strip of land sandwiched between the railway line and Asia’s largest scrap market. Mala’s father, Lalji started working as a garment checker in one of the export houses and earned only Rs. 200 per month which was sufficient for two. Soon the couple was blessed with a girl child, Renu.

Unfortunately, Renu passed away due to Meningitis when she was just 8 years old. Her mother, Rajkumari could not handle the trauma and went into depression. Asha Community Health Volunteer (CHV) who was her neighbour observed her condition and forcefully brought her to Asha centre. “I remember a lady clad in a sari wearing a big smile consoled and counselled me. After this, I followed her advice and started attending Mahila Mandal’s (Women Association) meetings,” said Rajkumari. The Asha team made sure that she was always provided emotional support.

Over time, Rajkumari was counselled for having another child and soon the couple conceived. During her second trimester, Lalji decided to go back to their village where Rajkumari gave birth to a beautiful child, who they named Mala.

When Mala was just 2 years old, she too had the same fever which took away the life of her elder sister. Rajkumari immediately came back to Mayapuri and contacted Asha. The team took Mala to the hospital without wasting any time. With timely treatment she was fine but it affected her eyes permanently (squint).

When Mala was thirteen years old her father met with an accident in 2013 which affected his spinal cord because of which he is not able to do any work to date. It was then Rajkumari took all responsibility for running the house and started working as a helper in the nearby factory to earn a meagre amount of Rs. 6000 per month. In spite of heavy workload and household chores, Rajkumari made sure that Mala had enough time to study.

Mala joined the Asha family when as a Bal Mandal member. She always loved spending time at Asha learning something new. Asha family was the first one to celebrate when Mala completed her grade 12 from a nearby government school in 2017. She scored 87% and stood first in her school. Asha helped her secure a seat in Bharti College of Delhi University. Her mother’s eyes filled with tears when Mala got admission in the college. Mala will be graduating this year in Political Science. To give her professional exposure Asha provided her with an opportunity to intern at the British High Commission under the Internship Programme. To provide the right guidance in career planning and to upgrade the soft skills she has also been mentored by Ms Katherine Ryan from British High Commission under the Asha’s Mentorship Programme.

Mala is an active ambassador in Mayapuri. She has imbibed all the Asha values and help the young ones in their studies. “I want to be a Political Science teacher someday. After completing my graduation I would like to continue my higher education. My parents always supported me and now it’s my turn to support them. Asha will always hold a special place in my heart,” said Mala.

We urge all the Asha supporters to come forward and help the bright girls of Asha to achieve their dreams.

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