Two Tribal girls fighting for education

Anjali and Kumkum are cousins who belong to the Rehatgaon Block of Harda district. Both Anjali’s and Kumkum’s parents are bamboo artists. Anjali’s father is also a painter. Both of them are living in a society where education beyond High School is rare. There is a high rate of dropouts in their community and a significant cause behind it is the lack of basic amenities and caste restrictions.

Anjali and Kumkum are cousins who belong to the Rehatgaon Block of Harda district. Both Anjali’s and Kumkum’s parents are bamboo artists. Anjali’s father is also a painter. Both of them are living in a society where education beyond High School is rare. There is a high rate of dropouts in their community and a significant cause behind it is the lack of basic amenities and caste restrictions.

Being the eldest one in the family, Anjali contributes to her family’s income and also assists in household chores. She says, “I am not afraid of anyone. I want to study further until college and work at a place where I can earn respect.” Anjali is extremely fond of acting in street plays and karate while Kumkum loves visiting new places.

Anjali

Kumkum shared, “I was not allowed to attend the workshop as it took place out of the village, and there were so many restrictions. We also faced challenges in organizing workshops as the community is usually engaged in work during the day and in the evening. But at last, we did it by building partnerships with schools and police to talk to girls about their rights.”.

Udaan is one-year fellowship, in which young girls (16-24 years) from rural and tribal communities in and around Harda, Madhya Pradesh go through a self-transforming journey to take charge of their lives, develop aspirations, identify their potential, gain awareness about the social realities that restrict them from realizing their potential. After year-long journey girls emerge as a community leader from rural communities and become role models for other young people by leading social and cultural change in their communities.

When they heard about Udaan program from one of their friends who already had volunteered with the organization, they realized that it would be a perfect opportunity for them to work for their upliftment and their community. They both also desired to gain some exposure to the outside world. 

Anjali reveals that there is a very low level of freedom in her community for girls and women and there is also unfairness and violence against those who express to study. She says that she had witnessed as well as experienced harassment while going to schools but that never stopped her from education. Whenever unjust happened with her and her friends, she responded and worked against the ones who harassed them. 

It is the experience of both that they decided to work on curbing violence that women and girls face while going to schools. They didn’t want a single girl to leave their education because of the incidents which were caused by the inhumanity dispersed in the roots of society.

During the one year journey of Udaan, they worked on their fears and honed their communication skills. Though both the girls were self-confident and had great communication skills, they worked extensively to get over their fear of talking to adults and those who were outside their comfort zone.

Kumkum

At the end of the program, Anjali shared, “After connecting Udaan fellowship I have built my knowledge on issues of domestic violence and eve-teasing through workshops and community meetings. We ran a 16-day campaign on ‘Activism Against Violence’ and during that campaign, we talked with women about violence and harassment, and how harassment manifests itself. We even identified the places where the incidents of harassment occur and then intervened with the police to stop them.”

Anjali and Kumkum also created a group of 20 girls and women in the community and took regular meetings with them to inspire girls to continue their studies and create a support system to deal with violence. 

As an organization, Synergy Sansthan holds in empowering children, adolescents, and youth from rural and tribal communities., Udaan program works with girls, especially from the tribal communities. Synergy Sansthan has been working with tribal girls for the last four years as it is important to build dreams and aspirations of the girls who have been marginalized in the patriarchal society of Harda. Girls like Anjali and Kumkum are the inspiration for their community and many girls who want to transform the negative traditional and cultural practices prevailing in the societies into positive. 

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