Sultana is a 16-year-old girl from Darbhanga, Bihar, who came to Delhi nine years ago. She stays with her parents and six siblings in the Sarai Kale Khan slums. With her father working as a tailor and mother, as a domestic worker, making ends meet was no easy task for the family.
Going to school helped her forget the daily hardships for a while. But Sultana had to pay a heavy price for being the eldest child in the family. While four of her siblings were going to school, Sultana had to discontinue her studies when she was in the third standard because her mother fell ill. Her father’s earning from the tailoring job was not enough to support the entire family, and so Sultana had to drop out of school and assume her mother’s role as a domestic worker. The child had to work from morning till late in the evening to earn a meagre Rs. 5000 a month.
Five years ago, a ray of hope shone on Sutana when she was approached by CAF India supported NGO partner, Childhood Enhancement Through Training and Action (CHETNA) team and encouraged to visit their day care centre at Nizamuddin. After some counseling, she was encouraged to continue her studies along with her work. In 2012 she took admission in the third standard through the Open Basic Examination (OBE) and her keen interest in studies ensured that she passed the third standard with competent grades.
Gradually, Sultana has learned to shuffle between work and studies. She dedicates two hours everyday, from 1-3 pm, for studying. Her hard work, despite all the struggles, helped her clear the final OBE exam in 2014 with flying colors. The results gave her a sense of dignity and pride and she is now studying in the eighth standard. Sultana is realising her true potential and is now interested in taking up dancing lessons and learning how to operate computers.
Sultana’s success story has been the result of her own belief in herself and hard work despite all the odds stacked against her. It’s no wonder that she now motivates other girls in the community not to lose hope in life. She wants to become a fashion designer someday and knowing how gritty Sultana is, few would doubt her resolve.
*This Alternative Education project is part of CAF India’s Give-As-You-Earn programme supported by Microsoft India