Flowers that blossum in slums

Bodhicitta Foundation is running job training programs for women and girls. We picked three random stories for our newsletter. These three women are very much like all the other girls/ women of our project. The most common characteristic we notice is self motivation and self confidence, something which we didn’t expect in the beginning and came to us as a pleasant surprise.

Shalu is one of the participants in our job training programme in the beauty therapies course. Being a 19 years old, elder daughter to a paraplegic father and mother who works as a landless labourer, she faced a lot of trauma growing up. Her parents live 100 km from Nagpur. A year after her brother was born, her father had an stroke which led to paralysis. Her mother had to work in a job that barely gave enough money to feed one person ($50au per month) and sent her to her Aunt’s in Nagpur. Shalu felt unwanted and often had to face her Aunt’s husband who was unkind to her.
Shalu has a strong motivation to be independent and learn new skills in life which can make her way a bit easier in the cold hard world of poverty. She has enrolled in a university for a bachelors of science. She is still living with her relatives as she has no choice and financial independence. Shalu wishes to one day support her parents especially her mother and her younger brother who is in high school. We met Shalu through one of our social workers. She was very happy when we told her of our job training program. It was a perfect opportunity to hone her skills. She is doing well in the class and looking forward to use the skills she’s learned to earn independence and dignity.

Rajni has faced a lot of hardships in her 35 years of life. She grew up in an orphanage after she lost both of her parents. Rajni came from a Hindu family and her husband was from Dalit (ex-‘untouchable’) Buddhist community. His family got upset by this breaking of a social taboo. They had to start a new life together and leave behind his family who did not accept the marriage. Their first child turned out to be mentally challenged. It was very difficult for Rajni to look after her boy as she had to work in the back breaking job of a construction labourer. Her boy is going to a charitable special school. When asked Rajni why she wanted to do this job training. She said she wanted to get a job that could give her a sense of dignity and enough money to at least send her second child to a good school so later she can have a better life.

Pramila was the 5th child of her labourer parents. She did manage to pass high school before her parents married her off. Her husband is also a labourer. They have a child now. Pramila is a lively and joyful person. She brings smiles wherever she goes. She tries to support her family by making some extra money here and there. When she heard about Bodhicitta Foundation’s job training program, she approached us with a wish to bring a positive change in her family, with sincerity and her eyes full of confidence. She wanted to join the program, because she said she doesn’t want to repeat her parent’s mistake of having too many children and not educating them or marrying them off before they have experienced life. She wants her children will be independent in order to break the cycle of poverty. She also wants to start helping her fellow slum women after getting training by giving them training herself.

* Names and photos may have been changed for privacy and safety reasons.