Page 1

BACK COVER

COVER


Introducing the ‘Trust’ The Lady Bamford Charitable Trust was established in 2001, with the aim of supporting vulnerable communities in India to access a better quality of life. JCB India’s corporate social responsibility interventions are implemented through this Trust, helmed personally by Lady Carole Bamford. Since its inception, the Trust has been working in villages and government schools around the areas of its two factories in India – one being in Ballabhgarh, Haryana and the other in Talegaon, Maharashtra. The Trust has two areas of focus – first, on education and second on augmenting livelihoods through enhancement of skills. Besides these two focus areas, the Trust has also supported the development initiatives of the government by building roads, sanitation units, water pipelines and providing medical facilities. The latter support is limited to the villages of Ladiapur (Ballabhgarh) and Ambi (Talegaon) As this book goes to print, the Trust (usually referred to as LBCT – both in the stories that follow and otherwise) works with 6 government schools and 2 ‘production centres’. These ‘Centres’ are also often quoted in this book and are the focal points of LBCT’s work in the villages of Ladiapur and Ambi.


Introducing the ‘Trust’ The 10 stories of change in this book represent the journey of this Trust and the people it has worked with and for over the last decade. There were many stories that inspired, many stories of grit and an unfailing belief that a better life was possible. But what inspired us was that beyond such beliefs were the people themselves – willing to share their lives with us, over questions, laughter and a cup of tea. They remain our strength and the drivers of change. While 4 pages cannot do full justice to their journeys of change, they can serve as milestones and beacons. Besides introducing some wonderful people to the world, we have a parallel agenda for this storybook - that these stories will help identify the pathways of change – the crux of any development initiative. We hope that through this process we will be able to identify what are the drivers of change, what are its outcomes and what models of change are best suited to the people we work with. The 10 stories presented here represent the different kinds of people we work with and also hopefully a range of the different ways in which the Trust has been able to reach out to people. It includes people from three locations – Ladiapur, Jharsaintly and Ambi – the three older locations of the Trust’s work.

The Lady Bamford Charitable Trust This ‘storybook’ is not an isolated piece of documentation, but the first in a series of documents over the next few years that will follow the continuing journeys of the people you will meet in the following pages. We also hope that as our work spreads to new locations, we will be able to add more stories. Our thanks to all our staff who have played such primary roles – not only in this process but in the Trust’s work on the ground – you will meet them regularly in the stories! Our thanks also to Ashim and Ravinder - our photographer and writer, who brought to this process their skills and experience with so much generosity and spontaneity and became part of the LBCT family. Our special thanks to Lady Bamford, our tireless patron and guide, for constantly inspiring us to do better things and bigger things and doing everything with perfection.

A snapshot – January 2012 Since 2001, The Lady Bamford Charitable Trust has been working in the villages and schools around JCB’s plants in India – Ballabhgarh (Haryana) and Pune (Maharashtra). The primary thrust of this Trust has been on facilitating communities to access a better quality of life. Two villages have been ‘adopted’ – Ladiapur in the Ballabhgarh area and Ambi near the Pune plant. In these villages the Trust has built roads, sanitation units and established and consolidated production groups that can augment family incomes. The skills that are presently pursued at this centre are tailoring and embroidery, weaving, printing and binding. Ladiapur and Ambi have differing levels of skill and number of women who are part of the production groups. The printing press is only in Ladiapur and is run by a group of young men of the village. A pilot women’s production group has been started in the Faridabad District Prison and this is expected to grow into the larger project from this year. Much of the products of these groups are absorbed by JCB itself – both the local factories as well as UK based markets as provided by the LBCT. The groups also participate in local fairs and exhibitions.


GROW. ARCHANA. INSPIRE. LAU

The Lady Bamford Charitable Trust

CHALLENGE . BECOME. KAMALKA The Trust has also continued to provide facilities of regular doctor visits, health and hygiene camps, workshops, sanitation units for specific families and sessions of specific health issues with community members. In addition to this, the Trust has focused on enhancing the facilities of the local government schools in the two villages. This includes providing repair and maintenance of the school buildings, housekeeping, basic hygiene, support to the mid day meals (provided by the government), building new and additional classrooms, toilets for students and staff, extra curricular activities (including access to and participation in national and international students platforms) providing academic support in English, creative work and computers, building and maintenance of school play grounds, support to sports, health check ups. In doing this, the Trust works closely with the relevant government authorities. In addition to work with the formal school system, the LBCT also runs non formal classes as well as adult literacy classes. Both are for students who have either dropped out of school and/or are illiterate and allow access to the students into the formal education system, inspite of their staying out of the school system. Both of these are government

certified courses. The LBCT also runs government certified computer courses out of the centre in Ambi.

PIRE. EXPLORE. IMAGINE. KNOW.

To aid needy and deserving students, the LBCT runs scholarships as well as sponsorship programmes. This helps in reducing drop out rates in the higher classes. The sponsorships are provided by the JCB employees and allow for a relevant staff engagement.

ENGAGE. QUESTION. TILAK. CHAN

In addition to these two village schools, the LBCT has also partnered with the Jharsaintly Government Senior Secondary School near the Ballabhgarh plant. This school benefits from the Trust’s infrastructure support, scholarships, sponsorships as well as academic support as described above. This is a large school with a total of over 1100 students and our investments here are accordingly large. Having had a relevant experience in working with government schools and convinced of the fact that this support contributes to an enhanced quality of life for the students and their communities, the LBCT plans to work with 4 new schools in 2012, while continuing to support the earlier work. Three of these schools are in the Ballabhgarh area and one in Pune.

MOTIVATE. SPARK. SAVITA. INNOVA KINDLE. RAJENDER. INFLUENCE. C

TRANSFORM. ARCHANA. INNOVAT

GROW. REHMATI. CHALLENGE .

LAUGH. BECOME. KAMALKAKI. INS

EXPLORE. IMAGINE. KNOW. ENGA

QUESTION. TILAK. CHANGE. SPARK

SAVITA. INNOVATE. KINDLE. RAJEN

INFLUENCE. MOTIVATE.TRANSFO

REHMATI. INNOVATE. LAUGH. GRO REHMATI. CHALLENGE . BECOME.


I had a dream to earn Rupees 5000 per month and today I am proud that my dream has come true. My next milestone is to make my village Ambi, a model village and I am moving towards that goal

Archana D Bhansode, 29 PUNE


Archana D Bhansode Archana Dilip Bhansode is the Tai (elder sister) of the village. As a coordinator of JCB’s corporate social responsibility wing in Ambi village, her job is to liaison between the villagers and the company. Hers is a story of grit, hard work and perseverance. As one walks with Archana Tai through the bylanes of Ambi, it becomes quite evident that the villagers hold her in high esteem. You can’t help but think about the reasons behind the respect she’s earned from the villagers. It’s not your rags to riches story in the regular sense because Archana’s wealth is the love of her villagers. For a girl who hailed from a poor family that struggled to send her to school, to where Archana stands today, it is a huge achievement. Archana’s own interest in education and drive to make a difference in her life and that of other’s played a huge role in keeping her going against all odds. Her mother - Usha Dilip Bhansode stood behind her too, as much as she did for her two sons. Usha believed in the importance of education; hence was disappointed when her sons dropped out of school. Archana was the only one who persevered, and her mother kept encouraging her, pushing her to continue her studies.

My mother worked in people’s homes to educate us. Both of us shared the same view on education; that it would be the cure to all our sufferings. She would pay 50 paise, my one-way bus fare to school and on the way back, I’d have to walk for about an hour and a half. There was never any money for shoes, but for me that was not important.’ recalls Archana without any sense of deprivation. For her, being able to go to school was all that mattered. I had to use the same uniform for three years. It was torn, and I’d to wear a sweater even in summers to cover the rips in my uniform. In fact I remember being ridiculed for the sweater in hot weather, but what was I to say?’ she reminisces. However these issues didn’t detract her from her goal to finish her school education. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to be the end of her struggles. If Archana wished to study further, she realized she would have to fund her own education. Hence she decided to take up a job as a laboratory assistant in the neighboring village. It didn’t go down well with her brothers, who were disapproving of their sister working. But with the support of her mother, Archana overcame the resistance from her brothers and took up her first job earning Rupees 400. Her mother recollects, ‘Archana started working and since


Archana D Bhansode then I haven’t had to fund her education. She used the money she earned to study further. She put in long hours both at work and in her studies but didn’t complain even once.’ And Archana hasn’t looked back since then. Her desire to do something for her community drove her to work with an NGO helping weak students who struggled with their studies, in the village school. Things only got better after Lady Bamford Charitable Trust (LBCT) adopted the village in 2006. Since Archana was the most educated member in the village, she was given the responsibility of conducting a survey about the changes that could be brought about for the betterment of the village. Impressed with the job done by Archana, she was brought on board the Trust. The focus of her job was to galvanize the villagers to take part in initiatives that would add to the development of the village. In the last few years Archana’s responsibilities have increased and now she oversees all the projects undertaken by LBCT in the village. She ensures that all the systems put in place by the Trust and the outreach program in Ambi, focused on women and children, runs smoothly. Her day begins at the village school computer centre in the village where students from class four to seven are given computer

training. Children also learn English so that they are better equipped for future challenges in life. LBCT focuses on overall development of the children and has made specialized training available to Archana to be able to handle that responsibility. The children’s parliament program or the ‘Balpanchayat’ programme in the school, run by children, is helmed by Archana. The ‘parliament’, under her guidance, handles issues like drinking water, food and sanitation in school besides looking into matters related to school drop-outs. Through this program and with Archana’s able support, children learn to take decisions, manage responsibilities and it encourages leadership skills in them as well. From the school in the mornings, Archana moves on to the skill development centre set up for women. The aim of the center is to get women out of their homes and learn skills like handicraft work, sewing etc and be more self-reliant. Through this initiative, Archana has managed to help many women from the village to become financially independent and be able to support their children. Elderly women in the village are also engaged through the senior citizens club managed by Archana. Women in their autumn years, who find it difficult to cope with the

loneliness in their lives, find a meaningful support system through this program. ‘For us life has changed and credit goes to Archana. She has managed to get us out of our homes,’ says Savita Kaki, an elderly woman in the village. ‘LBCT takes us out for short trips away from home, celebrates our birthdays and runs health camps too. And today all of us are like one big family that supports each other in difficult times and shares joyous moments together. That was Archana’s main goal in the first place,’ she adds.

Amidst all the responsibilities that she handles, Archana hasn’t let go of her passion for teaching. In the evenings she gives tuitions to kids, who make way to her home with school bags on their back and dreams in their eyes. They all want to be like their role model; Archana tai. For a girl who didn’t have Rupees 500 for the form required to do her Bachelors in Education and fulfill her dream of being a teacher, Archana has come a long way. She believes she owes the Masters in Social Work degree she’s studying for, to LBCT and remains upbeat as she says, ‘Whatever happens, happens for a reason. I can still teach the children but I would not have managed to do everything else I do

Amidst all the responsibilities that she handles, Archana hasn’t let go of her passion for teaching. In the evenings she gives tuitions to kids, who make way to her home with school bags on their back and dreams in their eyes. They all want to be like their role model; Archana tai.


Archana D Bhansode today, if I had become a teacher. Now I can do a lot more for my village and with a degree in Masters in Social Work, I can earn a better living too.’ Archana wants to continue working with the Trust in the village, but now with a professional degree. The degree will bring more money, and help improve her work, she hopes. But what about her personal life and her plans to start a family? She has to deal with the pressures of not being married at an age where most girls in the village are expected to. ‘My brothers want me to get married but I want to continue my work. I would like to spend my life with someone who will let me serve people. I do get many proposals but I have decided that I will not marry a man who is less educated than I am,’ she asserts. Personally, the vision for a better future and the determination to live her dreams, Archana believes, are her biggest gains from being associated with the Trust. Today she is an independent woman who is not afraid of expressing herself. Her ideas might not match those of the society filled with stereotypical norms, but today she has earned respect from that very society.

LAUGH. ENGAGE. AZAD. CHALLENGE . B INSPIRE. EXPLORE. IMAGINE. KNOW.

QUESTION. TILAK. CHANGE. MOTIVATE

SAVITA. INNOVATE. KINDLE. GROW. INFL

LAUGH. TRANSFORM. INSPIRE. INNOV

GROW. REHMATI. CHALLENGE. BECOM

KAMALKAKI. INSPIRE. EXPLORE. IMAGIN

KNOW. ENGAGE. QUESTION. TILAK. CHA

MOTIVATE. SPARK. SAVITA. INNOVATE.

INFLUENCE. TRANSFORM. INNOVATE. L

GROW. REHMATI. CHALLENGE . BECOME

KAMALKAKI. INSPIRE. EXPLORE. IMAGIN

KNOW. ENGAGE. QUESTION. TILAK. CHA

MOTIVATE. SPARK. SAVITA. INNOVATE. K RAJENDER. INFLUENCE. TRANSFORM.


I love my work. It is because of my work that my life has shaped up the way it has. From a boy loitering around in the village, out of school, chasing dogs and creating trouble, today I earn a living and am studying. I have plans to start my own printing press and a secret dream of working in JCB

Azad Khan, 18 LADIAPUR


Azad Khan Despite being the best student , Azad Khan had to drop out of school due to lack of funds. Now he is being educated through non-formal education system. He has once again proved himself by scoring the highest marks among all the students at the non formal education centre run by the Lady Bamford Charitable Trust in Ladiapur, Haryana. He is now preparing for Class X exams. Azad is confident that he will score good marks to secure admission in the local ITI. (An ITI or an Industrial Training Institute is a government supported institute for industrial technical training In last three years, eighteen year old Azad has become an expert operator of the printing unit at the LBCT centre of Ladiapur village. ‘Textile, pigment and paper printing and binding, I have learnt all these skills at this Centre. It took me six months to master the printing process and since then I have been taking care of the orders that are placed with our centre. From cards, file folders, tags and yellow bags to printing on bedcovers, cushion covers and table clothes, I am well versed with all’ explains Azad while displaying the work done by him.

It’s a profession which is in demand today and that’s why I want to setup my own unit. I have explored all the markets around my village and seen that the businesses are doing well and I would one day want to do something of my own.

Using soft and soothing colours on fabrics and nice solid ones on the paper, Azad understands the nuances of printing. Colour combinations that he used are a typical to his style of his work. Hansraj Singh, printing teacher at the LBCT centre for four years praises Azad for his caliber, ‘Azad is a good worker and has a good grasp of the printing process. Even if I am on leave, Azad along with other two boys can handle the work responsibly. The job requirement is a lot of calculations and accuracy. ‘They need to have concentration and finesse, as the settings are different for each new sample. Tracing, measuring, design accuracy, all these elements have to kept in mind and unless you are into


Azad Khan your work it is difficult to deliver. Azad is a perfectionist and works with full accuracy,’ explains Singh. Starting with a pay of ` 500 Azad today makes ` 2000 per month. Of course all this money goes to his parents. ‘My parents have to take care of my two younger sisters and my father does not earn enough to support us all. I feel satisfied that I am able to contribute at home,’ says Azad. So how does he manage his own teenage expenses? ‘Well on Sundays and public holidays I borrow my brothers autorickshaw and whatever I earn by driving passengers around is my pocket money,’ smiles Azad. For him printing has become a part of his existence. For him it is an art and a skill that has become his identity. ‘It’s a profession which is in demand today and that’s why I want to setup my own unit. I have explored all the markets around my village and seen that the businesses are doing well and I would one day want to do something of my own.’ The LBCT teachers also want to support him in his venture but that is for the future. In the meantime he has his eyes set on his immediate goal - ‘I want to score high marks in Class X so that I can pursue an advance

course in printing. This will enhance my skills further so that someday if I have my own shop or a unit I will be able to work for a variety of customers.’ Today his parents and teachers are happy with his performance. The teachers cannot forget the day when Azad used to be wandering about, wasting time and it took some effort to convince him to join the Centre. It took even more time to motivate him but now he is himself one of the main motivators among boys in the village. Saddam, a fifteen year old neighour informs, ‘I know Azad as a neighbour and a friend since we were children. We used to be a mischievous boys gang in the village till he moved away. Observing the changes in him, some of us were convinced to join the Centre. I am very happy that in 8 months of training I can make visiting cards now and also earn some money.’ Azad also started with visiting cards. ‘I was so happy to hold them in my hands but now I don’t remember whose cards were those. In these three years I have done different types of work and am maintaining a file which showcases my work.


Azad Khan Sometimes when I am proud of what I have done I take it home to show it to my parents. They feel good to see my work,’ smiles Azad. But in these three years has he changed? ‘Yes, very much. My attitude towards life is completely changed. When I left school I was cynical, pessimistic and used my energy in a negative manner. I was angry that I had to leave education even though I enjoyed it. Today I am an optimistic human being and I try to introduce as many people to this side as possible,’ asserts Azad. Now he does not waste his time. He has managed to bring his old friends on board and they have formed a solid group at the Centre. ‘We work together, we study together and we laugh together. It’s a joy to come here and work,’ says Azad. While the group is active and well bonded, they all nurture their dreams and the one with which Azad lives for now is to wear the JCB uniform someday.

GROW. LAUGH. CHALLENGE. IGNI

BECOME. KAMALKAKI. INSPIRE.

EXPLORE. IMAGINE. RAJENDER. KN

IGNITE. ENGAGE. PRIYA. QUESTIO

TILAK. CHANGE. MOTIVATE. SPARK

SAVITA. INNOVATE. KINDLE. RAJEN

INFLUENCE. AZAD. TRANSFORM

ARCHANA. INNOVATE. RAJENDER.

LAUGH. GROW. REHMATI. CHALLE BECOME. KAMALKAKI. INSPIRE.

EXPLORE. IMAGINE. KNOW. ENGA

QUESTION. TILAK. CHANGE. MOTIV SPARK. SAVITA. INNOVATE. PRIYA.

INFLUENCE. KINDLE. RAJENDER.

TRANSFORM. ARCHANA. INNOVAT


From being an uneducated, unconfident shy housewife, I am an entrepreneur today. I realized my true potential after I started working as a health volunteer with the Lady Bamford Charitable Trust in our village. Today I have an equal voice in all the decisions being taken for the benefit of the village

Kamal G Bhansode, XX PXXX


Kamal G Bhansode proud that I can buy books for my children,’ states Usha.

Kamal Gorakhnath Bhansode was married at the age of ten rather than being sent to school for her education. It was at the age of forty-eight that she first encountered pen and paper. Among the first lot of women in Ambi to become literate, Kamal is proud that she does not have to use her thumb anymore to sign any official document. Popularly known as Kamal Kaki, (Kaki is a vernacular word that translates as ‘aunt’) she is an epitome of success in the field of women empowerment. Walking around the village school campus in her magenta saree and red bindi, Kamal Kaki has a confident demeanor and immediately strikes a cord with the interviewer. ‘Its been six years since Lady Bamford Charitable Trust adopted our village and since then I am transformed from a reticent housewife to a women’s leader here. Talking to strangers is not any issue for me now,’ says KamalKaki while shaking hands with the interviewer. The change in her is motivation for many in the village. As her twenty year old granddaughter Varsha Bhansode puts it, ‘It is because of her that I am studying for a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce. Today all my cousin sisters are studying. We all admire her

Kamal Kaki has encouraged women in her family and in the village to make their lives more meaningful. Her knack to convince people effortlessly, by speaking the language they understand has made her the darling of the village. But what makes Kamal Kaki all the more endearing is her ability to laugh at herself, ‘If the trust would not have trained me I would be like any other mother-in-law giving a hard time to the daughters-in-law. All I would be doing is keeping an eye on everything they did, finding faults with it and that would result in fights in the family. That’s what I did till I was exposed to the world outside. ’

and have learnt to handle different situations from her. I think if my grandmother was educated she would have been a successful politician.’ Her daughters-in-law are equally happy. Usha Raju Bhansode - her elder daughter-in-law who studied till class three says she is lucky to a part of Kamal Kaki’s family. ‘Empowerment of my mother-in-law led to mine and now my daughters go to college. She helped me become financially independent and today I feel

Today she works with her daughter-in-law, cooking midday meals for the school children. ‘I was given the responsibility of cooking midday meals for the school children many years ago. The aim was to provide a good homemade meal to the school students. We have to cook about 15 kilos of rice and 2 kilos of dal (lentils) everyday. We earn Rupees 3000 per month through this,’ explains Kamal. Food and Kamal Kaki have in fact become synonymous in some ways. From winning prizes in cooking competitions to playing the leadership role in the papad* making unit started by LBCT in the village, Kamal offers food for thought


Kamal G Bhansode to many. She recounts, ‘we trained many women in papadmaking and sold the products at the JCB factory premises.

manages our huge household and also works with the women in the village. Literacy and exposure to so many new things have brought about a major change in her and today both of us work together for the betterment of our village.’

I begin from my house. I push my daughters-in-law to go for meetings. The best way to encourage them is to talk about my experiences

Kamal also recognizes the change in herself, as she says, ‘I am more confident today and can have conversations with anyone. I have not only learnt many new skills but have grown as a person as well, which makes me feel emancipated. I was scared of talking around men earlier but now I engage in a dialogue with them to discuss village matters. Earlier we could not interfere in these matters, but today women have an equal say in decisions taken for the

benefit of the village.’ While her village might have changed for the better to a great extent, Kamal also realizes that women have to be empowered for the overall development of the village. ‘I begin from my house. I push my daughters-in-law to go for meetings. The best way to encourage them is to talk about my experiences,’ asserts Kamal.

And experiences there are aplenty, and that are encouraging not only to her daughters-in-law but to all the


Kamal G Bhansode

GROW. LAUGH. CHALLENGE. IGNI

BECOME. KAMALKAKI. INSPIRE.

EXPLORE. IMAGINE. RAJENDER. KN

IGNITE. ENGAGE. PRIYA. QUESTIO

TILAK. CHANGE. MOTIVATE. SPARK

SAVITA. INNOVATE. KINDLE. RAJEN

INFLUENCE. AZAD. TRANSFORM

ARCHANA. INNOVATE. RAJENDER.

LAUGH. GROW. REHMATI. CHALLE BECOME. KAMALKAKI. INSPIRE.

EXPLORE. IMAGINE. KNOW. ENGA women in the village. Today Kamal Kaki has not only made a difference to her own life but to many others’ as well. And she attributes a lot of credit, for the change in her life to LBCT and the night school run by it, which made her a literate. ‘Now I can sign in three languages, I am no more an angootha chhap*,’ smiles Kamal.

QUESTION. TILAK. CHANGE. MOTIV SPARK. SAVITA. INNOVATE. PRIYA.

INFLUENCE. KINDLE. RAJENDER.

TRANSFORM. ARCHANA. INNOVAT


I believe that adversity is the best teacher, it brings you face to face with life. If there were no problems in my life I would not have been who I am today. I have a dream to give my mother a comfortable life and for that I want to do well in my career

Priya Sharma, 18 PXXX


Priya Sharma Eighteen year Priya Sharma, a student of Class XII, is also the prime bread earner of her family. Her income supports a family of five including her. She is looked upto by everyone in the school. A staunch believer of the taking any problem by its horns, she is a girl of strength and clarity. Striding through the corridors of her school, the s tall and slim Priya displays confidence in every step. She walks up to the interviewer exchanging greetings and is forthcoming in opening up her life. ‘Will you ask questions or do you want me to keep talking,’ asks this girl with certainty. We start off with her future plans. ‘I have been advised by my teachers to do Bachelor’s in Business Administration, BBA, so that I can get a good job to support my family. I am expecting to get more than 75 per cent in my Class XII exams so that I get admission in a good college,’ says Priya. But as we talk more one gets a glimpse into the internal turmoil related to the her future course of action. One thing she is focused upon is that she wants to be a professional but she is not aware of the various options that can be explored. ‘I know that I want to do a job which will use intelligence. My problem is that

with the little guidance that I have I can only do so much. If I knew more it would have probably been a different choice, but for now I am concentrating on my Class XII exams,’ says an anxious Priya.

When Priya lost her father, the family lived off the widow pension and odd jobs that the mother could manage. This was when Priya was in Class VIII and also when she started working ‘I could not see my mother struggling in bringing us


Priya Sharma

Everyone in the school knows her. For many students and for me of course, she is a great inspiration. She nurtures a desire to achieve and never gives up. Her toughness and determination help her move forward in fulfilling her dreams.’ - Davendri (Priya's freind)

job for my mother for a month or so, to avoid any break in the money flow.’ Priya continues to teach fifteen students from classes 1 to 5. She spends three hours of her time after school in giving tuitions and the rest of the time is devoted to her own studies.

From sports to rangoli making (a traditional Indian floor decoration made with coloured powder) Priya has made a place for herself in the school. Priya’s friend and confidante in school- Davendri Narwat, tells her story best. ‘Everyone in the school knows her. For many students and for me of course, she is a great inspiration. She nurtures a desire to achieve and never gives up. Her toughness and determination help her move forward in fulfilling her dreams,’ narrates Davendri her eyes glowing with appreciation for her friend. Even her teachers agree. ‘If given an opportunity she will excel. She has the will to do so. The hurdles in her life are unending but still she continues to maintain her stride and smile. She wanted to take up science but due to lack of money she is doing arts. One thing we know she will make it big as she is passionate about what she does describes Neelam Singh, a Lady Bamford Charitable Trust (LBCT) teacher.

Apart from studies Priya is enthusiastic about extra curricular activities in school. The school principal praises, ‘She takes

up. I learnt how to cut and sew and started stitching clothes for people alongside my school. My first income from stitching was Rupees 50. My mother was very happy that day,’ remembers Priya with smile. Being the main bread earner of the family there is a lot of pressure on her; so how is she preparing for the exams? Priya smiles and explains, ‘Well its not very easy but I have to get good marks and for that I have to devote sometime to my books also. So I have decided to put aside some odd jobs like stitching clothes for now. I do not take any stitching orders till my exams are over. Besides that I am looking for a

parts in different activities organized by the school and does it with full enthusiasm. Priya is a keen learner and one of the few students who makes an effort to speak in English. In fact she is good in speaking in English and this attitude of wanting to learn will take her far.’

Her irritation with her circumstances does surface at times and the teachers are privy to it. Varshianother LBCT teacher shares, ‘She is eager achieve a lot but at times when due to her circumstances she cannot move forward, you can see the frustration setting in. That’s where we have to intervene and counsel her.’ Challenges are a part of her and the latest one has again


RAJENDER.

Priya Sharma

KNOW. IGNITE. ENG

AGE. PRIYA. QUESTION. TILAK. CHA started knocking her door. The relatives have started pressurizing her mother to marry her off. She is considered to be of a marriageable age in the society she belongs to. Priya is against it as this would mean the end of all her dreams. ‘I will stand up for myself. I want my dreams to come true and will not let this happen to me. My mother

supports me always. I am confident that I will be able to convince her to stand up in my favour.’ Will Priya cross this hurdle? That is for the future to tell, but for the moment with the help of her teachers and the education she has received she is able to think for herself and dream of a life of her choice.

NGE. MOTIVATE. SPARK. SAVITA.

INNOVATE. KINDLE. RAJENDER. INF

UENCE. TRANSFORM. AZAD. AR

HANA. INNOVATE. RAJENDER. LAU GROW. REHMATI. CHALLENGE. B ECOME. KAMALKAKI. INSPIRE. EXP LORE. IMAGINE. KNOW. ENGAGE.

QUESTION. TILAK. CHANGE. MO

ATE. SPARK. SAVITA. INNOVATE. PR

RAJENDER. INFLUENCE. TRANSFOR

ARCHANA. INNOVATE. KINDLE. G

ROW. REHMATI. CHALLENGE . AZA

BECOME. KAMALKAKI. INSPIRE. IGN


I am passionate about computers. I discovered how much I love teaching computer studies when I got an opportunity to do so at the Lady Bamford Charitable Trust centre in our village. I dream of making user friendly software that will benefit people in their day to day lives.

Rajender R Prasad, 16 PXXX


Rajender R Prasad This is no ordinary boy from the village. People know sixteen year old Rajender Ramji Prasad, a student of grade ten, as a computer teacher. He gives computer training to his juniors and seniors. His passion to know more in the field of information and technology has brought him thus far. With perseverance and determination he has mastered the machine and helps his teachers in disseminating knowledge about it. ‘Can we sit in your computer room and do the interview? We can also take a picture of you with the computer,’ requested the interviewer. ‘I don’t have a computer and there is no computer room. My parents and my three siblings live in this room,’ said Rajendra opening the door of his one room tin-shed house. There was no computer! Then how did he pick up the skills and master them well enough to start imparting computer training to others? Did he have no computer in his house to work with? ‘I first encountered a computer when I was in grade one. I would walk to a neighboring village to learn about computers. The government school in that village had donated computers and I was keen to know more. Be it my holidays or half-days, I would walk to the village and learn,’ explained Rajendra.

So the interview started on a small charpai outside his house in the verandah. When the interviewer’s laptop was pulled out to make notes, Rajendra’s eyes lit up. ‘Laptop! I am seeing it for the first time; had only seen it on television before. Can I touch it?’ asked Rajendra. As he put the laptop in his lap the glint in his eyes grew further and his adept fingers started tapping the keyboard like the feet of a tap dancer on a dance floor. ‘Please open excel for me,’ requested an excited Rajendra. ‘I want to become a software engineer but I don’t know if I will succeed due to the lack of funds at home. My parents want me to start working after I clear grade ten. But I want to do a degree in information technology. My parents cannot afford to send me to a degree college,’ regretfully mentioned Rajendra, while he was still on the Mac crunching numbers in excel. His association with numbers has been a long one. He has mostly been a top scorer in academics. ‘My father expects me to score 90 per cent marks in grade ten exams so that I get admission into a diploma college easily. If I do not score high percentage he will have to pay donation for my admission, which he cannot afford. There is a lot of pressure to perform and I am working very hard,’ expresses a concerned Rajendra.


Rajender R Prasad

I offered to teach a batch of school dropouts who would come back from work but were still keen on learning computers. I trained them at the LBCT centre. Students from both my batches have passed the MSCIT exam Ambi village, explains, ‘We observed him for long. He is an intelligent student who uses his brains and does not waste any time. So much so that his mother would be concerned and complain about his eyesight due to sitting in front of the computer for long hours . But today his hard work has paid off. It is due to LBCT that this government school got computers and Rajendra could achieve so much at a young age.’ His parents are proud of his performance and expect him to do well. ‘The support he received from LBCT has been tremendous. Scholarships, books and patient teachers who would not tire by his quest for knowledge,’ smiles his mother Meena Ramji Prasad. She adds, ‘He would miss his

meals, go before time and stay till late at the computer centre in school. It would drive me mad at times, but now when I look back, I realize that he spent his time well.’ The credit in identifying his talent and nurturing it goes to the LBCT teachers. Archana, the co-coordinator of LBCT in

Rajendra is not just talented with computers. He has attended English-speaking classes and can converse in it too. A few years ago when Lady Bamford had visited the village, Rajendra had given the vote of thanks after the program in English. ‘It was a proud moment for us teachers

to see him express himself confidently in English in front of a huge gathering,’ remembers Archana. He is an inspiration for many, especially his sister Vibha Prasad, 14. She says proudly, ‘I have also developed an interest in computers and he helps me with it. He is forthcoming in helping us all and we want to become like him. He is a good teacher.’ Rajendra acquired the MSCIT - Maharashtra State Certificate Information Technology certificate in 2010. He says, ‘For this certificate LBCT paid half my fees. I completed the process successfully with 48 out of 50 marks. After that I started teaching a MSCIT batch in the evenings after school, not for money but for quenching my thirst for knowledge.’ Today he is an expert in Microsoft programs - Word, Excel and PowerPoint. He is well-versed with internet and has also created a small webpage for his pictures. He not only teaches in his village LBCT computer centre but also helps around in his senior secondary school. His teachers look to him if they need any help with their presentations as well. And besides software, he is also picking up hardware training. But how does he do it? There aren’t enough computers in the Secondary School he goes to, so each student gets a chance to use the computer in the


REHMATI.

Rajender R Prasad

KNOW. IGNITE. ENG A

PRIYA. QUESTION. TILAK. CHA NGE lab thrice a year. But by helping around his fellow students he brushes his knowledge and makes the most of opportunities he gets. ‘I offered to teach a batch of school dropouts who would come back from work but were still keen on learning computers. I trained them at the LBCT centre. Students from both my batches have passed the MSCIT exam,’ he says proudly. His most immediate target after the class ten exams is to appear in another exam named MS champion. With this certificate he will get admission easily in the diploma course. Rajendra fears, ‘If I don’t score good marks I will need to work - probably in the fruit shop. In school I got scholarships from LBCT so it was a little easier to continue with my studies. Now it all depends on how I fare in grade ten.’

MOTIVATE. SPARK. SAVITA.

INNOVATE. KINDLE. RAJENDER. INF

UENCE. TRANSFORM. AZAD. AR

HANA. INNOVATE. RAJENDER. LAU GROW. REHMATI. CHALLENGE. B ECOME. KAMALKAKI. INSPIRE. EXP LORE. IMAGINE. KNOW. ENGAGE.

QUESTION. TILAK. CHANGE. MO

ATE. SPARK. SAVITA. INNOVATE. PR

RAJENDER. INFLUENCE. TRANSFOR

ARCHANA. INNOVATE. KINDLE. G

ROW. REHMATI. CHALLENGE . AZA

BECOME. KAMALKAKI. INSPIRE. IGN


Being the most educated in my family, today I teach my brothers. My biggest achievement is that I can contribute financially towards my family. I have also picked up sewing skills with which I can earn a living in the future.

Rehmati, 19 LADAIPUR


Rehmati Despite being an intelligent student, Rehmati had to discontinue her formal education after class five; as far as her village school took her. As she belonged to a community that was known for its poverty and orthodoxy* there was no way she would have been allowed to step out of the village for education. But today with the help of the Lady Bamford Charitable Trust she is appearing for her Class X exams through the National Open School. Rehmati’s story goes back to the year 2006 when staff members of the Trust got to know Rehmati. The Trust had identified her village, Ladiapur, for developmental work. Rehmati was like any other girl in the village; out of school, unkempt and running around with other children. The Trust team members recall, ‘She was one of the most uncared for girls around, and belonged to the poorest family in the village. Coming from a family of agricultural laborers, she had no proper home. When we first saw her, she had not washed her hair for months and it was badly entangled. But even then there was a spark in her. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to finish her school education.’ But no one could ignore her intelligence. Her sharp wit and effervescence were some of the qualities that

attracted the Trust staff towards her. They recall today, ‘She was very bright and we became increasingly convinced there was a need for intervention in her life. If we could make a difference to her life, it would be a mission fulfilled.’ Thus started her journey. The Trust staff had several sessions with her parents to allow her to study. Her parents were apprehensive of her further studies; they did not feel the need for women to move beyond their accepted community role of homemakers and mothers. It took a lot of convincing before she actually enrolled for non-formal education, which the Trust sponsored. Rehmati is warmly appreciative, ‘I was helped financially and with all the books and stationery. By no chance would I have made it thus far otherwise.’ Rehmati started with Class VIII and is now in Class X. Her goal is to become a teacher. Munni, her mother couldn’t be prouder, ‘She is the most educated amongst my four children. Now my sons seek her help in their studies and she teaches them.’ Rehmati started coming to the Centre in the village at the age of sixteen. Here, besides her studies, she learnt many new skills, which she proudly mentions, ‘I know


Rehmati

Now I can read the signboards on buses and streets, so it is easy to travel around alone. With the exposure I have had I am confident enough to speak to strangers. I am not scared or shy of people, and can have conversations with them.

although it’s not a lot of money at the moment, Rehmati believes that when she becomes a teacher she will be able to contribute more towards the family.

how to make baskets, bags, folders, pouches and other handicraft items. I love stitching. It was the happiest moment of my life when an embroidered salwar kameez I had made was displayed at a popular handicrafts fair. Sadly it didn’t get sold,’ laughs Rehmati.

She spends her day at the centre learning new things and of that two hours are spent in studies. Rehmati earns Rupees 500 per month from the items she makes at the Centre.‘I hand over all the money to my parents. They use it to buy rations for the house,’ explains a content Rehmati. And

Today her biggest fear is that her parents might not let her study further. After all she is a young girl of a marriageable age. It’s something Rehmati is well aware of as she says, ‘I am confident that I will be able to become a teacher. I want to work hard for it. But my apprehension is that my parents might get me married. In our village and in our community girls have to married soon after they turn 18. And I am not sure I can be strong enough to rebel against a decision like that in my case.’

However her fears do not dampen her spirit. ‘Even if I am forced to marry, at least I will be able to teach my children. I will be able to take care of their health, hygiene and sanitation. Now that I have been educated I understand these concepts,’ claims Rehmati. She believes, the skills she has learnt will offer her financial independence. She also has a plan B in case she does get married off. ‘I will continue my stitching and earn money from it. Soon enough I will be able to purchase my own sewing machine and support my family,’ explains Rehmati. Rehmati feels the support she has had received from the Trust will take her a long way ahead in life, ‘Now I am confident, financially strong and have acquired skills to help me earn a living.’ A girl who could not go to a school outside her village now travels to the nearest town on her own. ‘Now I can read the signboards on buses and streets, so it is easy to travel around alone. With the exposure I have had I am confident enough to speak to strangers. I am not scared or shy of people, and can have conversations with them,’ she says. Even small changes in her lifestyle, which her mother has noticed, speak volumes of the effort


RUKSINA.

Rehmati

KNOW. IGNITE. ENG A

PRIYA. QUESTION. TILAK. CHA NGE Rehmati has made to improve her position in life. Munni says, ‘She takes care of herslef and dresses up smartly. She looks beautiful! She is so conscious of cleanliness and maintains a spic and span house.’ Munni mentions ‘home’ but even today their family is struggling to make a house. They do not have a permanent shelter but whatever little they have tells a story of Rehmati’s journey from a school drop out to a confident and smart young woman in control of her life, working hard to rise above her circumstances of poverty and isolation, nursing a dream of becoming a teacher. *Rehmati belongs to the Meo community. The Muslim inhabitants of Mewat are called Meo. They converted under Sufi influence in 13th century. The majority has not been able to access formal education and is currently classed under Other Backward Class (OBC). Mewat, remains a seriously backward region in Haryana. It borders the National Capital Territory of Delhi, but the proximity has not really helped in changing its content or form. The economic life and social condition of this community of small and medium agriculturists has remained stagnant over many decades in terms of education, health, and other human development indices. The impact of the

industrialisation in neighbouring Faridabad has only isolated the Meos even more.

MOTIVATE. SPARK. SAVITA. ENG

INNOVATE. KINDLE. RAJENDER. INF

UENCE. TRANSFORM. AZAD. AR

HANA. INNOVATE. RAJENDER. LAU GROW. REHMATI. CHALLENGE. B ECOME. KAMALKAKI. INSPIRE. EXP LORE. IMAGINE. KNOW. ENGAGE.

QUESTION. TILAK. CHANGE. MO

ATE. SPARK. SAVITA. INNOVATE. PR

RAJENDER. INFLUENCE. TRANSFOR

ARCHANA. INNOVATE. KINDLE. G

ROW. REHMATI. CHALLENGE . AZA

BECOME. KAMALKAKI. INSPIRE. IGN


I believed in women empowerment always but did not know how to go about it. In the last six years with the support of LBCT I have motivated many women to come out of their safe havens. I understand the significance of education and financial independence of women. As a result my daughter is among the first three women in this village to complete Class X and now my daughter-in-law is in Class XI

Ruksina R Prasad, 1 LADIAPUR


Ruksina Ruksina is a leader of the women at the LBCT centre in Ladiapur village. She is the one who can bring women together, like a elder sister. Despite resistance from the villagers she continues to work with the women in the village and her mission is to help them find a meaning in their lives. As we sit down to talk surrounded by other women from the centre, a mobile rings. The silence is broken by a ringtone, a latest Bollywood hit song, ‘Sheila ki jawani’. Women sitting around start giggling. ‘Most of us own a mobiles now, this is what financial independence does to you. We do not need anyone’s help to use the mobile. We can call people, we can save numbers, we can recognize who is calling- all because we can now read and write. It feels like we have become like the character of the song, Sheila, whom no one can catch,’ laughs Ruksina, covering her mouth with her duppata and joined by the rest surrounding her. Ruksina is a leader of the women at the centre. She keeps the women involved and builds their opinion on different issues. As Renu Bhardwaj, the coordinator of LBCT well puts, ‘Being one of the first women at our centre she is like an elder sister of all the women here. She is a balance of humour and seriousness and is loved by one and all.’

Ruksina received a 5 day training in running an Adult Literacy Centre, provided by Jamia Milia University. Ruksina then started her own Adult Literacy Centre under the guidance of Lady Bamford Charitable Trust. Being educated till Class VIII before marriage, she was keen on teaching the women in the village. ‘That’s how I struck a chord with most

women. But the biggest hurdle for the last six years has been the same. The villagers do not approve of women being educated and making some money. Our empowerment has not gone down well with the people. Ignoring this resistance we have just been concentrating on our work,’ clarifies Ruksina.


Ruksina It is not always that they these women are able to overcome the patriarchal pressures of the society. ‘My daughter is among the first three women in this village who have completed their Class X exams. I am now under pressure to

get her married as we marry our daughters early. But I made sure to find an educated groom for her so that she can continue her further studies,’ says Ruksina. Her daughter knows how to read and write in three languages- Urdu, Arabic and Hindi. ‘My son is uneducated but I got a daughter-in-law who has completed Class X and now I have enrolled her for Class XI,’ states Ruksina proudly. But what about her own further studies? ‘I failed in the Class X exams,’ a candid confession. ‘I did not work very hard this time but next year I will complete my Class X. Even though I have not passed Class X I ensure that my children’s teachers do their job well. You see, that’s what I mean by empowerment. Two of my sons are in school and because I am educated till Class VIII, I can keep a check on when the teachers are shirking work. That’s when I make a noise,’ smiles Ruksina. For her education is a lifetime investment as no one can steal it from you. While the drive to complete her Class X is on, she has picked up many skills. Abdul Rashid her sewing teacher at the centre is happy with her performance. ‘She did not know anything when she came here. Today she cuts and stitches her own clothes. From bags to baskets, she does all kinds of work at the centre. We call her a multi tasker,’ appreciates

This Centre is like wings for us women… It enables us to fly and from the sky we cannot hear the clatter of disgruntled villagers.


MOTIVATE. SPARK. SAVITA. INNO

Ruksina

KINDLE. RAJENDER. INFLUENCE. AZ Rashid. Working at the centre she earns Rupees 2300-5000 per month, depending on the orders. At the Centre it is not all work and no play. Ruksina takes the lead in fun activities as well. Renu, who coordinates the Centre narrates, ‘when there is a power cut, the machines stop working and then we see Ruksina in another role. She becomes an entertainer imitating various people of the village or sometimes television actors and actresses. She makes us all laugh.’ For this woman whose husband works far away in Saudi Arabia, the LBCT Centre is second home. ‘I cannot live without coming to the Centre and meeting all my friends here. We share our lives together and offer support to each other. All these women are my family and I would not want to lose it at any cost,’ says Ruksina. Ruksina wants to keep adding new members to this family. Sunita, one of her colleagues observes, ‘She has transformed in last six years. Now she knows how to deal with people, she has learnt so much and ensures that she shares her knowledge with all of us. Under her guidance we all have grown to be better human beings.’ That’s exactly what Ruksina believes in, ‘This Centre is like wings for us women… it enables us to fly and from the sky we cannot hear the clatter of disgruntled villagers.’

TRANSFORM. ARCHANA. INNOVAT

RAJENDER. LAUGH. GROW. REHMA

CHALLENGE. BECOME. KAMALKA

INSPIRE. EXPLORE. IMAGINE. KNOW

ENGAGE. QUESTION. TILAK. CHA

MOTIVATE. SPARK. SAVITA. INNOVA

PRIYA. KINDLE. RAJENDER. INFLUEN

TRANSFORM. ARCHANA. INNOVAT

LAUGH. GROW. REHMATI. CHALLE

AZAD. BECOME. KAMALKAKI. INS

IGNITE. EXPLORE. VARISHA. IMAGIN

KNOW. ENGAGE. QUESTION. TILAK

CHANGE. MOTIVATE. SPARK. SAVIT


The most significant thing about education to me is the fact I can teach my kids. Now I want to complete my education and get a job. I understood the importance of education when I joined the Lady Bamford Charitable Trust Centre in our village a few years ago. It was only then that I passed the Class III examination (which otherwise is passed at the age of 7) followed by Class VIII and am now appearing for Class X exams through the non-formal education classes run by the Centre.

Savita, 1 LADIAPUR


Savita Savita, once uneducated, today can read and write. Along with education she has mastered the skill of sewing. She feels proud that she saves the Rs 50, for tailoring fees, by stitching her own clothes. For Savita, the biggest achievement in her journey of change has been her financial independence.

ground where you would find cows and buffaloes instead of children. Now both teachers and students are regular. It feels good to see the children studying, and that’s when I think if I was educated, I could have done more with my life.’

‘When Savita came to us, she knew nothing about sewing, but today she stitches salwar-kameez*, which are put up for sale in fairs. She comes with us to the fairs and is confidence personified when it comes to handling customers at the

Over the last few years she has also honed her sewing and embroidery skills. Abdul Rashid her sewing teacher says,

stall. She was one of my most shy and reserved students, but today she’s very comfortable dealing with strangers.’

For Savita, her new life began after her second son was born. It was the same year that LBCT adopted her village Ladiapur. Savita was just like any other housewife in the village taking care of her children and household, till she came to know of the LBCT. Renu Bhardwaj, coordinator at the Centre recalls, ‘Savita was an enterprising woman; her only drawback was that she was uneducated. We decided to motivate her and also encourage her family to let her come to the Centre. She joined our adult literacy centre and due to her hard work and commitment she is now in Class X and hopefully will get a job soon.’ Today Savita understands the importance of education and does not want to compromise on her sons’ studies. She observes, ‘The government school in the village has become one of the best schools in all the neighboring villages after it was supported by LBCT. Earlier it was a cattle


Savita

I can now handle my house, my work and my children on my own. I am more aware of what’s happening in the world as I read newspapers. I can discuss issues I encounter in my life, while earlier I would cover my face as soon as I was faced with questions

Savita dedicatedly spends two hours a day, at the centre brushing up her studies, and continues at home after she finishes her household chores. ‘My focus is to clear the Class X exams. Once that is done I will think of the next step. I devote as much time as I can to prepare for my exams,’ emphasises Savita. Besides studying herself, she now teaches her children as well. Her own education has helped her immensely in guiding her children as she admits; ‘Now I understand what they are studying and I can mentor them wherever they are wrong. If I was not educated I would not have been able to know if my children were actually studying or just fooling me. At least now I am a vigilant mother as I want them to have a better future’ She feels, ‘If I was educated I would have been given more responsibility. Educated people are always preferred

everywhere. I am glad that I am educating myself now, as it will help me as well as my family.’ Through her education, Savita has not only managed to turn things around for herself and her loved ones, but has become a role model for other girls in the village too. Jannati, her young neighbor is the fifth amongst nine daughters in her house. Inspired by the changes she observed in Savita, Jannati joined the centre and is grateful to her, ‘I saw Savita learning new skills and earning a living, so I was inspired to join too. She helped me and motivated me. Today I support my family with the money I earn.’ Empowerment of these women has not been easy. Savita might have had the support of the family but there was a relevant resistance in the village against the Centre. Savita points out, ‘It took some time for the LBCT staff to convince my

family but the Centre has had to face a lot of criticism in the village. This village is isolated and orthodox and that’s why it takes time and effort on our part to motivate other women.’

One of the reasons the Centre has faced resistance from some villagers is the fact that women like Savita have now become financially independent and feel empowered


Savita

RAJENDER.

KNOW. IGNITE. ENG

AGE. PRIYA. QUESTION. TILAK. CHA because of it. It’s something Savita herself is proud of, ‘Today I don’t have to ask my husband for money, and for me to be able to support my children’s needs on my own is a meaningful achievement,’ says Savita. She acknowledges that with LBCT’s help she has managed to grow as a person and has learned to make her own decisions, ‘I can now handle my house, my work and my children on my own. I am more aware of what’s happening in the world as I read newspapers. I can discuss issues I encounter in my life, while earlier I would cover my face as soon as I was faced with questions,’ asserts Savita. Savita now doesn’t hesitate to express her views on issues openly either. One issue that’s closest to her heart is that of sex-selective abortions. ‘It is unfair that a girl child is killed even before she is born. And if it is born, the mother and the child both are cursed. I just don’t understand this unfairness,’ Savita says strongly. She believes women have tremendous power and if they decide to set their minds on something, there’s nothing they cannot accomplish. Savita is the living proof of that belief. Savita’s story might be like that proverbial drop in the ocean, but it holds a promise not only for her and her family but for many women like her also.

NGE. MOTIVATE. SPARK. SAVITA.

INNOVATE. KINDLE. RAJENDER. INF

UENCE. TRANSFORM. AZAD. AR

HANA. INNOVATE. RAJENDER. LAU GROW. REHMATI. CHALLENGE. B ECOME. KAMALKAKI. INSPIRE. EXP LORE. IMAGINE. KNOW. ENGAGE.

QUESTION. TILAK. CHANGE. MO

ATE. SPARK. SAVITA. INNOVATE. PR

RAJENDER. INFLUENCE. TRANSFOR

ARCHANA. INNOVATE. KINDLE. G

ROW. REHMATI. CHALLENGE . AZA

BECOME. KAMALKAKI. INSPIRE. IGN


When I was in secondary school, I only knew the language spoken in my village, but today I know English, Russian, Hindi and Punjabi. I am doing my Masters in Computer Applications and working in a call centre handling American clients. My dream is to become a success story in the world of Information and Technology

Tilakraj, 1 HARYANA


Tilakraj The foundation for Tilakraj’s career was laid at the Jharsaintly Government Senior Secondary School (JGSSS), Haryana. A direct recipient of the support to meritorious students provided by the Lady Bamford Charitable Trust’s scholarships and also educational guidance by the teachers the Trust, he believes that without any of this he would not have been what he is today. ‘I was forced to drop out of school in Class VIII to work in a factory as I had to support my family’s meager income.’ With an abusive father the atmosphere at home was unsettling, young Tilak found that the outside was no different. When the gates of the wide world were opened, Tilakraj started discovering the disadvantages of caste barrier. The only saving grace was that his teachers kept pursuing his return to school. ‘I was disillusioned and overworked. At that time I wouldn’t even have dreamt of being where I am today – studying MCA and Russian and running my own computer literacy centre,’ smiles Tilakraj. Life changed for Tilakraj when he found a floppy disc in the factory where he worked. Not knowing what it was, he slipped it into his pocket. ‘I used to watch the sun through the film in the floppy disc. The sun would

be clearly visible. Little did I know it would change my life forever! It was only when I met my teacher – Ms.Neelam Singh, did I come to know what a floppy disc was and I was totally fascinated’, smiles Tilakraj.

From then on Tilakraj has never looked back. Aware of his potential, the LBCT teachers had kept close contact with Tilakraj and were on the lookout for ways to bring him back into the formal education system. This allowed him to


Tilakraj

I look at challenges from a student’s perspective. Just as a student has to face an exam we should face troubles in life. Just like exams, troubles will also pass. return to school and the Trust scholarships financially helped him. The LBCT teachers mentored him and informed him about the probability of working with computers. But life was not going to be easy for him. He lost his father and from then on it was also about supporting the family, as the pension was not enough. ‘It was the saddest moment of my life to lose my father but I gathered myself up and took the responsibility of my mother and siblings,’ says Tilakraj with a characteristic seriousness that belies his age. It was in Class XI that Tilakraj enrolled with a computer institute to learn a few programming languages. While the hunger to learn became more insatiable, the path was not easy. ‘I wanted to do well in computer training but my performance was being limited due to lack of my own

computer. Once again my teachers came to my rescue. Neelam ma’am got me an old computer so that I could practice my lessons,’ narrates Tilakraj. He was also given books by LBCT to equip him with more knowledge regarding computers. Soon Tilakraj was not just walking but leaping ahead. He took advantage of the computer at home and also of the

fact that he was the only one in the village who knew how to operate it. ‘I gave lessons at home to the children in the village and earned some money to buy my books, travel and clothes. I started learning and teaching at the same time. The institute where I was studying gave me a batch of 9 students to handle and I was paid Rs 100 per student. I saved Rupees 600 per month after paying my fees,’ says a


LAUGH. GROW. REHMATI. CHALLE

Tilakraj confident Tilakraj. However nothing he earned was enough. He always wanted to share his mother’s financial burden but could not do much. So he decided to expand his work and started a small photo studio at home along with a mobile repair unit and computer classes. He had to now put in extra hours to earn money and also continue with his education. Despite everything that was going on in his life he scored 70 per cent in the boards and received a scholarship from LBCT. As Devender, one of the village elders explains, ‘I know him since childhood. I cite his example to my children. For a boy who lost his father at a young age, he has proved his worth. Tilakraj is a type of boy, every parent would be proud to have. Us villagers expect more from him as he is the inspiration to many in the village.’ And so he is. Neelam Singh his teacher proudly speaks of him, ‘He was always keen to learn new things and whatever he was taught he would inculcate that. We identified his creativity and only helped him enhance and refine his skills by giving him exposure to different fields. I would say he is a good learner and a hard working, goal oriented boy and has made us proud.’

. IGNITE. BECOME. VARISHA. INS Things very clearly have not been easy for Tilakraj but he has a small formula to deal with troubles. ‘I look at challenges from a student’s perspective. Just as a student has to face an exam we should face troubles in life. Just like exams, troubles will also pass,’ is Tirakraj’s belief, which speaks a lot about his wisdom too. Now he is preparing for Combined Defense services exam. With his call center job, he supports his mother, brother and sister financially. However that means he does not have enough resources left to pursue his passion in Information Technology. But as always Tilakraj has a plan, a strategy that has held him in good stead so far. He says, ‘I am trying to get a government job so that I can pursue further courses and still be paid. The government pays for further enhancement of skills while one is working and that’s why I am trying for a public sector job.’ Along with his job and preparing for competitive exams, he is also pursuing Masters in Computer Applications through a correspondence course. All the hard work means less sleep, but Tilakraj does not mind, ‘I believe in working hard today so that tomorrow will be beautiful,’ he says with one of his rare smiles.

EXPLORE. IMAGINE. RAJENDER. KN

IGNITE. ENGAGE. PRIYA. QUESTION

TILAK. CHANGE. MOTIVATE. SPARK

SAVITA. INNOVATE. KINDLE. RAJ ENDER. INFLUENCE. AZAD. TRANS

FORM. ARCHANA. INNOVATE. RAJ NDER. LAUGH. GROW. REHMATI.

CHALLENGE. BECOME. KAMALK

INSPIRE. EXPLORE. IMAGINE. KNOW

ENGAGE. QUESTION. TILAK. CHAN

MOTIVATE. SPARK. SAVITA. INNOVA

PRIYA. KINDLE. RAJENDER. INFLUE

NCE. TRANSFORM. ARCHANA. INN


I no longer have to depend on what the world has to offer; today I make my own choices. When a woman makes her choices, it’s not appreciated much in our village, but I do not let that bother me as I am pursuing my dreams of becoming a doctor.

Varisha, 19 PXXX


Varisha Varisha, the firebrand nineteen year old is a good weaver, reads English and is now appearing for her Class X exams. As a child, she was never sent to school. She learnt her alphabets at the age of fourteen and is now supporting her younger sister’s education and mother’s healthcare.

When she walks down the village by lanes, you cannot help but notice heads that turn. Men, women, old and young everyone talks of ‘Madam’. Yes, she is popular with many and is disapproved of by others. But she remains unaffected by what others have to say of her. For her age, Varisha shows amazing clarity as she says, ‘With my financial independence and education, I have made my choice to live the way I want to, dress the way I like to and continue with my education. I am following my dreams and I like to do things my own way.’ Her intelligence, dedication and hard work are her forte. ‘She enrolled in the Adult Literacy Centre (ALC) at the age of fourteen and subsequently appeared for Classes III, V and VII exams and cleared all of them in one go,” says Sangeeta Arora, the Trust’s teacher in Ladiapur village. “We have been very happy with her performance. The ALC exam invigilators immediately noticed her talent

and asked us if we could support her education. We did and she is now in Class X. She has been one of our most intelligent students.’ Varisha is preparing for her Class X exams ans she simultaneously runs an Adult Litercay Centre (ALC) for women. She had ten students; two have cleared their exams, three got married and five are still with her. That explains her being called ‘Madam’ in the village and she enjoys it. Although she wants to enter the medical profession, her teachers have a short term plan for her, ‘We want to give her Nursery Teachers Training and either get her a government job or use her in one of our schools which we run for children.’ No one knows if she will become a doctor or a teacher, but for now her main focus is on her overall development. She spent a year learning embroidery skills at the LBCT centre and then moved on to weaving. Raj Bala, her weaving teacher has taught her the skill for last three years and is proud of her, ‘She is a very good weaver. From setting up the machine to supervising other students, she is adept in all. I can trust Varisha with all the responsibility I give her as she always delivers. She is a fast learner and a hard worker. I would say she has become a master weaver now.’


Varisha Besides her weaving skills she uses her own ideas to come up with new designs. Her mats and runners are popular in UK. ‘I started by learning how to make mats and the yoga

mat that I weaved won the appreciation of Lady Bamford. I weave flowers and give a lot of thought to the colors I use in making the design different,’ explains Varisha.

earning. ‘I keep some money for myself and give the rest to my mother. She had to go through a surgery recently, so we need to spend a lot on her medicines. It is possible because I use my monthly earnings of Rs. 1500-2000 judiciously,’ expresses Varisha. Varisha also understands the importance of personal grooming. She spent some of her first salary on buying herself some good shampoo and conditioner because, ‘I have this wish to look smart,’ smiles Varisha. Earlier she would wear and eat whatever was provided but now she asserts her choice. She likes to buy clothes and prefers readymade clothes to stitched ones.

A part of her goal in her overall development is to hone her skills to read and speak in English. Presently she is working hard on her reading. ‘I practice reading English at home and my mother thinks I am using some bad words,’ smiles Varisha. She is also good with her finances and learnt the art of handling money almost instantly after she began

Her family is proud of her. Her younger sister Aneesa is following her footsteps. Varisha’s father passed away a few years ago. But when he was alive, he had the privilege of feeling proud about the fact that his daughter was performing well in school. She is the most educated of all the 8 brothers and sisters after all. ‘Her education was very useful to the family when recently my mother transferred our father’s property in the names of my two brothers. Nobody could make head or tail out of all the paperwork, but Varisha read


Varisha

I keep some money for myself and give the rest to my mother. She had to go through a surgery recently, so we need to spend a lot on her medicines. It is possible because I use my monthly earnings of Rs. 1500-2000 judiciously.

out the deed to them and explained what it was all about. I felt very proud of my sister,’ mentions Aneesa. Even though her family has accepted her independent, even stylish ways, the villagers don’t always endorse everything she does. Despite facing opposition, she strides confidently in the village threatening the age-old rules made for women. For Varisha, fulfilling her dreams is her mission in life and she is focused on her goal.

JCB booklet  

Stories about 10 common people

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you