Breaking the vicious circle

I was born in a slum area of Mumbai. I can’t remember having a best friend and till I was 12, I did not really know what a birthday celebration was. My dream was to finish school but the odds were not in my favor. In my slum area, there is no supportive environment for girls’ education. No one to inspire or guide us. So most of us drop out. I was no exception.
In 10th grade I failed my exams and had to quit school. My failure was taken as an evidence that girls should not be educated. I had no choice but so start working in order to help my parents. This was definitely not the life I wanted. But growing up with 2 siblings, I felt it was not fair to burden my parents with selfish dreams. It took me a long time until I finally gained enough confidence to give myself a second chance. I realized that I had to do something for myself. Almost all the girls around me had the same struggle. Without a better education we had no chance for a better life. And it would also affect the lives of our future daughters. I felt that someone had to break this vicious circle. So whenever I was done with work, I studied on my own. It took me three years but eventually I passed all exams and finished school.
Moving ahead confidently despite the lack of support was the biggest challenge in my life. As it still is for many girls in my hometown. I want to help them to pursuit their dreams and to belief in themselves even when their families and communities don’t. I want to provide them with the support and mentorship that I needed so badly.

About the author
Aarti Naik is a slum-based young change-maker and founder of SAKHI for Girls Education an organization that provides capacity building for slum girls. SHAKI offers a door-to-door library, reading and writing programs, and a self-help group for girls and mothers. With SAKHI Aarti wants to reach out to more than 1000 girls in next three years. Her vision is that every girl goes to school with confidence and to receive high quality education.

You can get in touch with Aarti on facebook or by e-mail: aarti@sakhiforgirlseducation.org

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