Choose to Challenge: Stories of Strength!

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“The most effective way to do it is to do it.” –Amelia Earhart

 

When women are empowered and girls are educated great things countries prosper, children are educated, and communities thrive! Through its work in the grassroots communities Smile Foundation works with women and girl children to empower them with education, healthcare, skill training, etc. Following are some stories of the strength of women who choose to challenge the norms of society. They are still working to change the way society functions and stepping on one milestone at a time.

 

Mother Leads the Way

 

Cholona Pal

 

“I have always felt imprisoned by financial constraints. I was unable to complete my education because there was always very little money left with my Maa-Baba after feeding the children. Health concerns took the rest of it.

I don’t want my children to suffer the same fate. I don’t want them to feel like they can’t dream because of money problems. If children are imprisoned by illiteracy, they will never be able to know how big this world is, how beautiful the people are, if they don’t come out of these shackles.

As a mother, I choose to challenge and sent my children to school. I always encourage my children to dream, because the way dreams can motivate you to break your barriers, nothing else can.”

 

A Daughter Aspires to Shine

Neelima Murmu

 

“My father is a mason. My mother stitches Sal leaves at home to help with household expenses. And I still aspire to become a doctor one day, because why not?

I belong to a family that puts in a lot of effort to make little money, feed each other, and sleep on a full stomach every night. We have basic requirements to lead a simple life, but that does not mean I have never thought about how I want my life to look like when I grow up.

As a girl, I have been taught to make do with whatever luck hands me down, but why should I accept that? I also have the right to dream big. I also have the right to make more of my potential, receive a quality education and give back to society. Why should a girl stop if she has taught herself to dream?

Luckily, my parents want to support my education, but as much as they want that, the pandemic has made life very difficult for us. I will continue to dream despite difficulties because I choose to challenge and I know that hard work always pays off, be it for a boy or a girl.”

 

A Teacher lights the paths of her Students

Mina Chinchuan

 

“Every time I look at my students, I feel proud. Proud that they are trying so hard, despite a million challenges that they face every day.

I began teaching little children from the age-group of 4 to 12 when I realized the importance of these formative years in an individual’s life. At this age, is it appropriate for them to learn the caste barriers that divide them from the rest of the world? No!

I was privileged in the sense that my parents decided to educate me despite the question of caste or gender. But many children in the village of Kuthurla never learn alphabets. I was determined to change that.

The kind of marginalized communities that they come from, as a teacher, I have to fight against all ignorance to bring these children to school. So when lockdown happened, I thought all my struggles would go in vain. No child would continue their education after their parents get a chance to employ them in working and earning money. Even children as young as 6 or 7 years olds would be forced to drop out because there would be nothing to eat at home.

But before too much damage was done, I was able to start cluster classes in each village, once a week. With proper precautions in place, we started where we left off months ago. To my utmost surprise, the children were more excited than I was!”

 

A Community Worker Mobilises and Sensitizes

Swapna

 

“I was raised to believe that extending care to those who need it the most is the biggest act of kindness. I have always believed in it with all my heart. As a result, my biggest desire was to become a doctor someday. During the course of achieving my dream, I found an opportunity to work in close contact with the community. I faced the harsh reality and realized that working as a doctor would not fulfill the true purpose of my life. I wanted to help people in all ways possible. And feeling the pain of those who struggle every day to pay the fees for a doctor changed my perspective towards life. I met people who had decided to suffer in silence, instead of giving away their precious little daily wage for healthcare or for anything else.

I decided that these were the people who needed me the most. For once I choose to challenge the norms of society. I started visiting remote communities in far-reached rural areas and inaccessible slums. I listened to their problems and started extending help. My job now is to mobilize such people and sensitize them into seeking proper healthcare provided free of cost through the medical unit of Smile On Wheels.

I regularly communicate and keep a tab on the health and well-being of almost all the people of the community. I have made many new friends here, and I have become quite attached to most of them. At the end of the day, when I count the number of people I could help, it gives me the greatest satisfaction. So now when someone asks me- “What do you do?”, I reply with pride- “My job is to help people!”

 

To know how Smile Foundation helps empower women and children follow https://www.smilefoundationindia.org/swabhiman.html

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