By Shangmi Roel Moyon, CHLP Fellow, 2015-16 Batch
It was 9th April 2015 when I met a girl of 11 years at the Anganwadi Centre in Gulab Nagar slum who amazed me with her understanding of the needs of people in her area. Her parents are migrants from a nearby village of Pepliya Zahopir area. Occasionally her parents would take her to their native place and that is how she could get in touch with her grandparents, relatives and cousins as well. She is in IV standard at Asha Niketan Hindi Medium School run by a missionary. She has a younger brother who also goes to the same school. During our interaction, she mentioned her wishes of becoming a doctor. This girl of 11 years is not simply dreaming but is also very realistic in achieving her dream. She mentioned that in order to realise her dream she has to earn a good percentage in science subject which she feels was quite challenging without a tutor. Though she wanted to join tutorial classes with friends due to financial problem that her parents faced she could not join the tuition class. She uttered that if at all she succeeds in becoming a doctor, she will start her own clinic in her village because she feels that people from her village face lots of problem in accessing health care facilities since there is no proper health care system that nearby her village. When asked about the idea of opening a clinic in the city rather than in her village, she shrewdly concluded that people from her village need such a facility more than the city people do because in the city they already have many private and public health hospitals that run very well but not in her village or the area where she belongs to. She is very determined about what she wants in her life and is ready to work hard for it. Though her parents were going through financial problems and have a constant fear of eviction, they were quite positive about their child’s education.
This little girl represents many girls in the slums who want to attain good schooling, pursue higher education, gain skills and give back something great to the society in their lives. Unfortunately, in Indra Nagar, according to the slum tabulation report of Madhya Pradesh, only 56.8% i.e 729 children between 5 to 18 years of age out of the total population of 1283 could attend school to certain level even when considering drop out in between. Moreover, the number of girls attending school is lesser in the slum as compared to boys which came to my notice through observation and interactions with the concerned persons at various point of time within the community.
From the above account, it can be drawn that all she wants is a good education system that would haul her out from the wrath of poverty and injustice that apprehends the poor people from accessing the health care system.