14 year old Sunita Kumari became a part of Project Nanhi Kali in class 8 in the academic year 2006-07. She and her family belonged to the remote village of Bhader in Kotra Block in Udaipur which can only be reached through a 6 km trek on a rickety road.
Her parents, both agricultural daily labourers earned just enough to put two square meals before the 6-member family. With the youngest girl child already a school dropout in class 7, there were chances that Sunita would also be forced to drop out of school to work and supplement the insufficient family income.
Going to school for Sunita, was like a race with incessant hurdles. The school was 16 kms. away from her village and she often had to use 2-3 modes of travel to get there. School authorities did not pardon her for being occasionally late and being reprimanded in front of other classmates was even more humiliating. Household chores left her with little time and energy to revise what she was taught in school or prepare for the next day’s teachings.
While the hurdles continued, Project Nanhi Kali’s Academic Resource Coordinator, Mr. Amit Kumar, stood by her like a guardian angel, continuously counseling her family and encouraging her to diligently direct all her efforts towards her studies.
Her inherent potential, hard work and effective mentoring by the Academic Resource Coordinator ensured that she passed Grade 7 with flying colours and also sought admission at High school.
Economic pressures continued to threaten her educational journey as her parents found it difficult to pay for her daily travel to school, notebooks and other incidental expenses. Proposals for marriage from interested parties within the community often made the parents consider marriage as a profitable option.
It was just then that there yielded a shimmer of hope amongst the dark clouds. A Project Nanhi Kali Academic Worker from a nearby village had to leave for some personal reasons.
Sunita, enthusiastically agreed to work for a few hours a day as an Academic Worker, motivating and teaching Nanhi Kalis from lower classes. The benefits of this proactive step have been numerous. On one hand, this has given her a respectable position within her own household and community and on the other hand, she earns to supplement her family income and is also able to put aside money to enable her to continue her own education.
Sunita’s is a true story of how distant dreams can be realized with sheer determination and persistence. She has successfully fought family and community opposition and overcome severe social and economic hurdles to follow her dream to educate herself and become an accomplished individual.The Nanhi Kali team is happy that they could encourage her on this path of progress and they truly look forward to her reaching newer and higher levels of success!