Rise is not just our philosophy. It is a call to action, to challenge conventions to make the world a better place. In the 75 years that we’ve done business, at every step of the way, we’ve helped people Rise. This story is not only a testament of our efforts in girl child education through our project Nanhi Kali, but it is as much an inspiring account of a young girl with big dreams, who was determined to make it happen.
This is the story of Hajiya – a process associate in her early 20s. Today a Computer Science Engineering graduate, she speaks fluent English and exudes confidence. But back when she was much younger, her future looked bleak.
“Should I not have come across Nanhi Kali, I probably wouldn’t be here in my career.”
When she was very young, her father passed away and her mother deserted her. Her grandmother and her maternal uncle raised her. They lived in a single room in Shaikpet, Hyderabad; her grandmother worked as a maid and her uncle as a watchman to make ends meet. When Hajiya started to go to school, they could not afford school bags, so her grandmother would stitch something like a carry bag for her books.
“My grandmother always believed that girls should get an education and be independent. I think I have become bold, inspired by the strong woman she is.”
Hajiya’s grandmother had big dreams for her and would stop at nothing to ensure that she completed her education.
As fate would have it, her grandmother’s wish came true – when Hajiya was in class 4, she became a Nanhi Kali. The material support helped her continue studying. She scored 93 percent in class 10 and was featured in local newspapers. Again, in Board of Intermediate Exams (equivalent of class 12), she scored an impressive 944 out of 1000 marks. Always a bright student, Hajiya often participated in academic and extracurricular activities in school as well as at the Academic Support Centre. She was a hardworking student who got good grades and won several prizes in elocution competitions, quizzes et al.
She made the most of the program and was very communicative with teachers. When she was in class 5, the students requested for hobby-training, following which team Nanhi Kali promptly introduced summer camps to teach students skills like stitching, art and craft, dramatics and more. In addition to this, they even conducted film festivals and boot camps. When Hajiya was featured for dramatics during an event in the local newspaper, it added to her motivation. She credits the program for taking personal interest in shaping the future of students like herself.
“Nanhi Kali shaped me in a holistic manner – it not only supported our educational needs but helped us develop more skills, shape our personalities, and turn us into the professionals we are today.”
As a way of gratitude and to pay it forward, Hajiya joined N Star – Project Nanhi Kali’s lifeskills education program for adolescent girls – as a Champion during her college holidays in 2018. She teaches Computer Science and English, hoping that it would benefit the current batch of Nanhi Kalis in the long run.
She recommends that young girls chase their dreams, no matter their circumstances, and that students invest time in extracurricular activities alongside education.
“Parents too must support their girls, stand by them and enable them to carve a niche for themselves.”