“My name is Seema. I belong to Safeda Basti slum in Chanderpuri area of East Delhi. My family migrated from UP about 30 years ago. My father used to work as a Security Guard in a private school. He got addicted to alcohol and lost his job. Now he does not work at all.
I live in a small shanty. My mother works in a factory nearby where she cuts thread. We are 5 siblings. With her meagre earnings of Rs 7000/- per month, she feeds us all. She tells me that when she was newly married, she always wore a veil. When she had children, she never ate food during the day because she had to feed us. She only ate food at night. Her stories always break my heart.
That small room is our whole world. We sleep, eat, and cook in the same place. Four of us sleep on the same single bed which is partially broken. My father and brother sleep under the bed. The bed is little high. Many times rats come into our home and bite us while we are sleeping.
We use the mobile public toilet daily. Men and boys have made holes in the back wall, so that they can see us when we are using the toilet. I feel so ashamed.
My father watches TV all day, and beats my mother all the time. I cry quietly when I see my mother being beaten. Sometimes I get very angry at my father. But it’s of no use. He doesn’t listen. I feel very sad.
I studied in a nearby government school in Hindi Medium. I was a good student. I always scored high marks in spite of all my problems. When I was in class 10, I came across Asha. Suman came to meet me at my home and motivated me to visit the Asha centre. There, I was surrounded by loving members of the Asha family. The Asha Ambassadors who were my seniors, gave me coaching and motivated me. At home I used to study under my bed. During the day, I studied at the Asha centre where I got all the help and support. I gave many mock tests for my class 12 board exam. I also learnt English at Asha. All my schooling was in Hindi, and no one in my family knows English.
Suman made it a routine to visit me everyday to motivate and guide me. The day the class 12 board result was announced, I was unaware. I had gone out. When I came home, Suman was at my door waiting. She showed me my result. I had scored 91.75%. I can never forget that day. For a second, all the days of studying under the only bed, which is partially broken, came before me. I couldn’t believe that I had scored so well.
My efforts and the efforts of my Asha family were in front of me.
Since then, Suman has never left me. I have seen her waiting in long queues outside the college gate, only to make my future bright. Today, I am very happy to share with you that with Asha’s help and support, I have now secured a seat in Political Science Honours at Zakir Hussain College of Delhi University. I am the first person in my family and community who will go to university.
When I think of the future, I always think of my mother and her sufferings. One day I would like to buy her a flat where she can live in peace and comfort. I am sure that with the Asha family by my side, I will succeed at University, and make you all proud one day.”