National Girl Child Day is observed on January 24 every year. The Ministry of Women and Child Development has demarcated this date to mark this special occasion.
Female infanticide to gender inequality, discrimination to sexual abuse and violence … girls face numerous issues every day. National Girl Child Day aims to shed light on the inequalities faced by girls and promotes awareness about rights of a girl child. Education, health, and nutrition are all very important for the betterment of girl children.
Government and educational institutions celebrate the day with various events. All these seek to change the attitude of society towards women and uplift the girl child.
Working for girls is an important part of Smile Foundation’s initiatives. Today, let us celebrate some of the beautiful girls we are working with.
Eleven-year-old Lali is a student of class II studying at a Mission Education centre. She has 7 members in her family, including her parents and four siblings. Her father is a daily wage earner and mother is a homemaker. Being uneducated, her family members never encouraged her to study. This gradually lowered her self-confidence.
The ME centre staff held a number of meetings with Lali’s parents. They sensitized them on how important it is for their child to get educated and become self-reliant. As a result, they finally agreed to enrol Lali at the ME centre. However, due to the pandemic, things came to standstill. Children like Lali could not access online education due to lack of digital access. To help her study, her father bought a second-hand phone.
Now, Lali joins her online class at 10 am sharp. She attends 45-minute sessions each of English, Hindi, EVS, and Mathematics. Her teacher assigns activities and checks the completed work and gives feedback.
She is an intelligent and enthusiastic learner who enjoys her lessons. Lali strives to reach her full potential and seeks new challenges. She participates actively in discussions and responds to what is taught during the sessions. She is self-motivated, displays self-discipline, and is well prepared for class every day.
Sumitra is a student of Class 9. Her mother is the only earning member in a family of six since her father passed away. Due to her meager income, Sumitra’s mother is always worried about the family’s finances. Her mother used to work in a school. Thus, when the lockdowns began, her income suffered a great deal. Lockdown after lockdown has only added to the family’s financial instability.
Sumitra shares, “My studies have been neglected because the school has been closed for almost a year since the lockdown began. Smile Foundation gave me a tab to help me study. My siblings and I studied and practiced a lot on that tab. There is a video on how to crack the exam in all subjects, so it was very easy to understand and we benefited a lot from it. The tab also has puzzles. There is lots to read on the tab again and this helped us develop the habit of reading.”
Sumitra enjoys her studies and likes her teachers very much. Even through online learning, the teachers explain very well. They are also available to resolve any doubts. With regular and academic support, Sumitra was able to make significant progress in learning. She completes her daily work diligently and actively participates in co-curricular activities.
Words can hardly do justice to Sunaina’s story. Childhood gave her all the qualms and no joy. At the age of 12 years only, Sunaina has witnessed many hardships at a very tender age. This limited her growth in all aspects.
Sunaina’s her father passed away when she was 10. Her mother was left to fend for the family of 3. She picked up odd jobs to give her children a decent life. The odds were stacked against the family as their economic woes became an obstacle for the children’s education. Thankfully, one day her mother came to know about the Mission Education centre in their community and its facilities for the poor children. Learning about the free tuition and co-curricular support, uniform, learning materials, etc. convinced her to enroll Sunaina at the centre.
Through the direct intervention of ME teachers, Sunaina overcame the hurdles by accessing the available resources. Further, the positive and vibrant environment and easy access to learning materials have helped in her holistic development. She follows all instructions in class and pays attention to her teachers. She has also been getting good grades.
Sunaina was very thankful when she received the sanitization kit from the centre. It saved her mother an added expense. She dreams of becoming a teacher one day.