T(h)reading on big dreams

A brilliant student from Delhi navigates through difficult circumstances for quality education
Priya at her home in Chanderpuri slum; (right)at Asha Centre’s library
Priya at her home in Chanderpuri slum; (right)at Asha Centre’s library

Priya, 17, lives in a one-room house at Chanderpuri slum near the railway line with her parents and three siblings. She cuts threads from jeans to add to her family’s income of `7,000 per month. She had only one school uniform that she washed after school every day so she could wear it clean the next day.Against these odds, Priya stood second in her school, scoring 88.5 per cent in Humanities in the CBSE Class 12 exams this year.

“Authorities from the Asha Community Health and Development Society brought the results to my house on July 15. My parents were so happy and couldn’t believe I had got such a high score,” adds Priya. Her parents are daily wage labourers. “My father works at Gandhi Nagar Market, transporting heavy cardboard pieces for 10-12 hours every day. My mother cuts threads of jeans at home. I would do part-time jobs to add to the family income from the age of 14. Still, my parents could not even afford my tuition fees,” says Priya, a student of Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Kailash Nagar.

Unlike other students, she never felt the joy of buying new books. Till Class 8, the school provided her with textbooks for the academic year, but things started becoming difficult with no money at hand. “Like some of the kids in my locality, I got associated with Asha. The staff visited my home and spoke to my parents on how education can change the course of my life. They provided me with free books and even organised mock tests. I live in a small house in the slum. It was very difficult to study because of the constant noise from the neighbours and the lane outside. So, I used to go to the Asha centre every day after school. I could sit in a quiet place in the library here and study in peace,” recalls Priya, adding that she got free tuition from The Asha Ambassadors (Asha College Students) at Chanderpuri slum community.

All through her Class 12, she would devote three-four hours every day to cut threads; her renumeration – `2 for 12 pieces of jeans. “Every morning, I used to first go to school, then come back, freshen up and reach the Asha centre by 1:00pm to study for an hour, then head home and help my mother in cutting the threads, and after dinner, I would study continuously till 2:30am.”But the lockdown has hampered the regular delivery of the jeans. “Now, I have more time so I visit the Asha centre regularly for English classes,” she adds.

Pained to see the level of education in her school, Priya wants to become a teacher. “The Asha members have helped me with the online application of BA in Political Science. I want to study at a reputed college in North Campus and do a PhD in Political Science,” she says.

About helping Priya, Asha Founder Kiran Martin says, “All the slum students who get associated with Asha are assisted. Asha has sent 3,000+ students from Delhi slums to the Delhi University since 2008, and we want to help Priya reach her highest potential.”

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express