Monday, August 5, 2019

The volunteers from Kabir Basti

"We have learned many new things, and are ready to take more responsibilities", says Sanjana. She studies in the 9th grade and is one of the volunteers from Kabir Basti, a village in Kathura block of Haryana's Sonipat district. Sanjana's group includes Rajni (11th grade), Neha (9th grade), Shalu (11th grade), Sheetal (10th grade), Ritika(9th grade), Tamanna (9th grade) who belong to Gudda-A division of Kabir Basti, and Nikki (9th grade) and Jyoti (12th grade) hail from the Gudda-B division. These girls have volunteered for collecting the Village Report Card and also volunteer for Pratham's library program.  

From Left to Right - Rajni, Neha, Shalu, Sheetal, Ritika, Tamanna;
Back - Nikki and Jyoti

"We got an opportunity to visit our neighbouring village, and it was the first time we travelled out of our village. It was a wonderful experience", says Sheetal. These girls visited Ahulana -A and Ahulana- B villages for preparing the village report card and are cherishing the experience. 

"Talking to unknown people was fun", says Tamanna. Her sentiment is echoed by others who admit that this experience has taught them many new things. Most of these girls do not travel outside their village. The only time they are out of their house is when they go to school, and it is not very far from where they live. Hence, travelling outside their village was like an adventure and interacting with people not belonging to their village was an experience in itself. 

But the journey was full of difficulties. 

"Many villagers from Ahulana did not entertain us, and sometimes they shut the door on our face", recalls Nikki. "But we persisted", she says with pride. "Some families did not agree that their children cannot read simple text. They insisted that their children go to school, and hence they learn. But when we asked the children to read, they had to accept", says Ritika. 

It is clear that travelling to a new village and talking to people was an experience these girls loved, and they will value it for a long time ahead. But how has it changed them? We get a diverse response from the girls when we ask this question. 

"We have changed. This experience has made us bold and confident. We want to explore more villages now", says Neha. "I can feel a change in me. I can talk to people and express myself. Earlier I was shy", says Shalu. "We will talk to our parents and convince them to allow us to travel outside, and spread the message of learning", says Jyoti, the eldest of them all. 

This group of young volunteers is excited to work with us and hopes to create a difference in their village and the neighbouring villages by asking everyone in the community to contribute in improving the learning levels of children. 



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