They want to be teachers, nurses, accountants, mechanical engineers, pharmacologists, and bankers. They come from the ‘basti’ (slums) of Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Kolkata, and Varanasi. They have overcome challenges ranging from poverty, malnutrition, domestic violence, parental abandonment and child labor to discrimination based on their gender, caste, or religion. Yet they are already change agents in their communities – serving as team leaders at Shadhika partner sites, carrying out flood relief activities in Chennai, organizing rallies on violence against women, helping victims file police reports against sexual harassment, and mentoring other girls so they, too, can succeed in their lives.
These are our 2016 Shadhika College Scholarship girls – and they are awesome!
Last year, Shadhika was able to send 10 young women to college through our College Scholarship Donor Circle. This year participating donors came together in May to review applications. With increased donor support, we were able to double last year’s commitments – providing almost $20,000 in support so that 19 young women can pursue higher education. Our goal is to grow this program to send at least 50 young women per year to college by 2019.
The program is having a profound impact on the young women participating, their families, and their communities. Because scholarship recipients have been abandoned or come from families that earn less than $2 a day, college had been out of reach for them; instead they faced pressures to get married early and stay at home. But now, with Shadhika’s support, the possibility for their futures is wide open. As one applicant wrote, “I never dreamed that I would get Shadhika’s scholarship. I feel sometimes that in our society and community, the girls don’t get any opportunity for education. My community people tried to convince my parents to get me married because they did not see any benefit in me going to higher education. I will be the first girl in our community to receive a scholarship.”
The Shadhika scholarship recipients are not just furthering their education, but they are also learning how to be independent and stand up for themselves. Another recipient explains, “Going to college to study always felt like a dream that would never come true! But this scholarship made it all possible as it gave me the opportunity to continue my studies… During my admission, it felt really good to negotiate my fee to half with the principal. It allowed me to experience how to speak with the principal. And it felt really good to go to the bank and prepare a demand draft (withdrawal) for the first time.”
Attending college also awards them new status in their community, where girls are often seen as burdens and a waste of time and money. “The thing that gives me the greatest joy is getting the full support of my father,” reports one or our 2nd recipients. “During this past year, my father has been waking up early, not worrying about his lost sleep – just to leave me to the train station. In a place where girls are not even allowed out during the day time, I was leaving home in the dark and returning home when it was dark yet again, and he was always there for me.”
To ensure these young women and those coming behind them are successful in college, Shadhika is launching a new “Supports for Success” program that provides supplemental English and computer tutoring as well as training in life skills, to help them develop the coping and self-management skills for adulthood.
Let us know if you’d like to get involved in our College Scholarship Donor Circle. A pledge of $1,200 a year or just $100 a month will sponsor a student for one full year. As you can see, it’s a game changing investment for these girls and their communities. Email us: email@example.com