We met Chandni in 2011, while she was begging on the streets of Dehradun-her BIG smile caught our attention!
After many months of counselling, she joined our Street Smart program with the lure of a bath, a meal and an education. After almost two years of ABCs and 123, Chandni was deemed fit to start formal education at a local government residential school supported by Aasraa Trust – Rajkiya Purva Madhyamik Vidhyalaya (RPMV) in standard 3. Besides education, we felt the need to give Chandni her independence back, so we had two prosthetic legs made for her through the National Institute for the Orthopedically Handicapped. Later a specialist leg was made by Mr.Peter Farrand from Australia, which Chandni uses now.
Today, Chandni is in Standard 5, she can read and writes her name with great pride. She walks around her school campus comfortably and likes to play games with other girls. She enjoys reading Hindi and solving Maths questions.
Chandni’s parents, daily wage laborers living in Dehradun’s Choona Bhatta area are proud of her achievements. They once thought she deserved to be a beggar just because she was differently abled. Thankfully, with her determination Chandni has proved them wrong and has forced them to change their opinion.
Her friends describe her as a sociable girl who believes in sharing; she is the same Chandni who was too possessive about her belongings and would carry her small bag everywhere few years back.
Chandni’s teacher, warden and confidant, Ms. Sangeeta Joshi says, “She would cry and fall asleep during her classes in the initial days of joining school, and today she is sincere in her schoolwork and completes her classwork and homework with dedication & diligence.”
She is a gifted composer of her own music and lyrics which she remembered until now by memory as she was illiterate. We are happy she can read and write; maybe she will record her own album one day!
Chandni has gone beyond just looking out for herself. Not only is she is independent and well organized in her school work but she has taken over a big sisters responsibility for junior students in the hostel.
Chandni is constantly described as a model student by her peers and teachers, a girl who is exemplary. But more importantly this little girl is a lesson for the rest of the world- ‘Everyone deserves a second chance.’
A lot has changed in the life of Chandni in the last few years but her radiant smile remains…