17 year old Shabnam has been living in Zakhira slum colony all her life. Her father moved to Delhi from Bihar 20 years ago in search of a livelihood. He is a daily wage labourer, and has to feed a family of 6 on 105 dollars a month. Two square meals are a luxury. Usually it’s one.
Shabnam was never allowed to step out of the house alone as a young child. She spoke about how she would wake up at 4am, help her mother with household chores, get her siblings dressed for school, and went to school without breakfast. In the evenings she witnessed daily quarrels between her parents over not having enough food.
The Asha Children’s Group at our centre was the only place she was allowed to go. There she was enveloped in the safe haven of love and kindness. She would sit in the quiet study space for hours everyday. The Asha team and volunteers provided her with books, voluntary coaching, and mentoring.
A sudden tragedy struck in the family when her brother suddenly fell unconscious one day and had to be rushed to the hospital. Shabnam had to take care of the entire family at home while her parents were at the hospital with their son. Shabnam would study at night, sleeping for barely 2-3 hours everyday. She says she doesn’t know what she would have done without the emotional support of the Asha team and Ambassadors. They spoke words of comfort, and assured her of their full support.
As soon as her high school exams were over, the pandemic broke out. Her father lost his work instantly. The family survived through Asha’s regular help with finances and groceries. She says that the family would have starved without Asha’s assistance.
And now I have the best news ever! Shabnam has scored 89% in her high school leaving examination. She can’t wait to find a place at Delhi University. Asha is committed to supporting her fully in every way both through the admissions process, paying for her college tuition, and after. Let’s all hope that Shabnam and her family will one day receive all the happiness in the world.
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