Kavita lives in Safeda Basti, a slum that is one of the worst I’ve seen. It’s about 4km away from Chanderpuri. The Asha team from Chanderpuri go there on a regular basis, and the students from Safeda come to the Asha center walking 4km.
Kavita is one of 7 siblings. Her father brought the family to Delhi 20 years back in search of a better life. Living in Safeda Basti was not what they ever imagined would happen. The poor living conditions and the absence of work made life miserable. Finally Kavita’s father began to sell vegetables on a cart by the side of the road in the local area. He barely earned 80-90 US dollars a month.
Kavita loved to study and somehow managed to do well in primary and secondary school. I was amazed to hear that she did so well in spite of being in a poor quality public school and living in a one room shanty.
Suddenly Kavita’s father suffered from a stroke and the left half of his body was paralyzed. The family took loans for his treatment and they had to arrange funds for huge medical expenses. Then Kavita’s mother fell sick and could not go to find work. In such a situation, Kavita gave up all hope of studying further and began to give private tuitions to young children from the slum, in her home. She began to earn a small amount of money. She and her family went through the worst of times. With both parents unable to work, Kavita was supporting the family financially, doing all the household work, and taking her ailing father to the hospital.
When the country went into lockdown because of the pandemic, Kavita felt she was waging a losing battle. She decided to abandon her education and her dreams forever.
The Asha team arrived with Groceries at her doorstep just after the lockdown. Kavita began to have conversations with the Asha team members, confiding all her troubles and worries in them. The team and Warriors brought her to the Asha Centre. They were determined to encourage her and help her through her troubles. They introduced her to the world of smart laptops with high speed internet, they coached her with enthusiasm and diligence, and gave her access to the well resourced library and quiet study spaces.
Slowly the long lost smile came back on Kavita’s face. She became immersed in the world of hope, positivity and promise. She began to love coming to the Asha Centre. She didn’t care about the 4km walk in the scorching heat, so keen was she to come everyday.
With her wonderful efforts and the compassionate support of the Asha family, she scored 81% in the National School Leaving exam. She was thrilled as was the Asha family. Kavita’s parents were reluctant to send her to university because of their financial distress and the loss of income from Kavita.
Asha took a long time to convince them, helped Kavita to navigate the university admissions process, and she now has a place to study for a BA at Maitreyi College of Delhi University! Asha has promised to take care of her financially, emotionally and in all other ways necessary, including supporting her family through the pandemic.
Kavita’s dreams have been resurrected, her spirits are raised, and there is Hope, Asha, once again in her life.