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Epitomizing Resilience: The Story of Esma Khatoon

2016-09-01 16:06:14

The family of little Esma migrated to Delhi when she was 6 months old. Her parents were hopeful that they would get a decent living in the national capital as they would be able to get good jobs that the city might possibly offer. However, soon after migration, they were faced with the harsh reality of the city life and they ended up living in Jai-Hind Camp, an urban slum in Masoodpur (near Vasant Kunj), Delhi. Car-washing was the only job her father could find, while her mother earned small sums by working as a domestic help. The family lived from hand to mouth and as is the case with most such households, to think of education of their children was a far-fetched dream.

Young Esma was however resilient in these times of distress, times that she had gotten used to over the years, and dared to dream beyond her means. She wished to study and be independent. While her parents wanted her to be married to a decent groom who could provide for her, she had other plans for herself.

Esma was enrolled in Sshrishti Jai-Hind Camp School at the age of eight years and made rapid progress. While the parents were least interested in her studies and had only admitted her in Sshrishti so that she could have a place to go while they worked, Esma made sure that Sshrishti School of primary education is not the end of her road to education and learning. After finishing primary school, she requested Sshrishti to contact her parents to allow her to pursue higher education. After repeated sessions of counseling, Esma’s parents finally agreed to admit her in class 6th in Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya (a government school in Vasant Kunj).

Esma is now a 20-year-old grown-up. She has passed class 12th with flying colors and has subsequently enrolled in 1st year of B.A. (hons) Political Science from the School of Open Learning of Delhi University. To finance her higher education and support her family, she is now a teacher in the same school where she had begun her journey to learning and independence. While the younger sister is also educated till class 10th and is now married, Esma is determined to make a mark for herself before she settles down. She wants to become a full-time teacher whom students can look up to and wishes to impact as many student lives as possible.

The story of Esma, speaks volumes of the talent that lies hidden in the farthest corners or the most underprivileged localities of a city, that is has forgotten the values of compassion and kindness. It is our duty to nurture as many such talented kids who have seeds of ambition within themselves. With the right opportunities and support, any child can grow up to become a role model like Esma Khatoon and be a guiding light for many similar lives.

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