18 girls from a slum get through DU

After losing her father, Nisha was deserted by her mother. The young child had to fend for herself in the filth and squalor of a slum in east Delhi’s Seelampur.

Nisha’s aunt took her in but she was not the best of guardians she could have.
But her miseries subsided once she started attending classes run by an NGO. Now, she is geared up to join Delhi University’s Zakir Husain College for BA course.

Like her, there are some 18 girls from a Seelampur slum all set to attend college this academic session – with the help of NGO Asha Society. Also, four boys from the slum cracked the nerve-racking DU admission process.

“My mentors at the NGO pushed me to study hard. They always believed in me and that gave me a lot of confidence,” said Nisha. “I want to become a teacher,” pat comes the reply when asked about her ambition.

Another 17-year-old girl, Heena, found it hard to pursue studies as her parents wanted to marry her off after she completed class 10. “I got 68 marks in Urdu in class 10 and my brother wanted me to stop studying. The whole family turned against my studies. My parents wanted to marry me off in two years instead,” said Heena, who scored 82 per cent in class 12 boards, securing herself a seat in Zakir Husain College.

“I came running to the NGO and they convinced my parents to let me study further. My mother started supporting me and the rest followed. I kept attending classes at the NGO,” added the teenager, also the first member in the family to attend college.

The NGO has presence in 60 Delhi slums. “The Asha team ensures that each child is a part of the formal education system and has access to adequate study material. As a result, primary school attendance in Asha communities continues to be at 100 per cent,” said Dr Kiran Martin, founder of Asha Society. “These children have confronted their challenges head on. They are now reaching such great heights from rummaging garbage to higher education and white collar jobs,” Dr Martin added.

In all, 114 students from such shanties got through DU colleges this year. Of them, 30 have scored over 80 per cent marks in class 12 boards.

Arshi also secured a seat in Shyam Lal College to pursue Hindi (Honours). “My father slapped me when I kept ranting about going to college. My seniors from the NGO convinced him not to worry about the fee as Asha Society would cover it,” the teenager said. “I want to do BEd after graduation as I want to be a teacher.”

Parents of these girl students took a lot of convincing to change their minds, said Shiv, a fellow graduate student who stood by the children during the tedious admission process. “My friend and I visited almost every household in Seelampur slum, asking parents to send their children for higher education,” he said. “In order to meet both parents together, we went to their homes in late evening. And it worked.”

(The series is concluded)

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