17-year-old Priya was born and raised in poverty in a tiny shanty hut by the railway line in Chanderpuri slum community located in the eastern part of the city of Delhi. Both her parents are daily wage labourers toiling hard everyday to raise the family of 8. Her father works in the local market manually lifting heavy cardboard boxes and carrying them to storage spaces and shops. He works 14 hours a day. Her mother sits all day in a dark corner of her shanty, cutting extra thread from locally made pairs of jeans, and gets paid 2 rupees (0.02 cents)for working on 12 pairs of jeans. Together they earn about 90 dollars in a month.
Priya loved to study but could not think of affording private tuitions during her high school year, something that was the norm for students from middle income families. She had just one school uniform that she washed every day after school. She has never ever been able to buy a book.
Priya began to visit the Asha centre at the age of 13. In her words, “ My life completely changed from the day I became a part of the Asha family. I did not even know what a Higher Education was till I became an Asha member. I loved studying at the centre, reading the books and other resources provided by Asha, and getting free coaching from my seniors at Asha.” She had to continue to do the job of cutting thread from jeans to help her mother, while she was at high school, and preparing for the all important national level exam.
Priya scored a wonderful 88.5% in this exam, and is now all set to find a place at Delhi University! Asha has helped her with the application process, and there is more work to be done, including pay for her entire college tuition. Then there will be the challenge of helping her navigate her first semester online due to the pandemic.
I am excited for Priya, and Asha is committed to providing her with all the support she will continue to need. And who knows where her journey will take her? We must believe in her, and help her to flourish and to reach her highest potential.
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