‘Affable’ Pooja

E[/cropcap2]nigmatic Pooja, is16 years old, self effacing, self contained, calm and stubborn as a mule! She endeared herself to us immediately by displaying a keen desire to learn and determinedly withstood her mother’s beatings in the beginning so she could spend time at Aasraa studying and training.

Pooja left Bihar with her mother six years ago to support her physically handicapped father. They were steeped in debt due to medical bills. Her brothers and uncles are all alcoholics and do not work. Pooja and her mother eked a living rag picking to send money home.

Though Pooja has never been to a school, she longed to study and write her own name! Our informal class on the pavement outside Orient Cinema drew her to us and was our most regular student. She is now a vocational trainee, who is earning and learning. It is amazing to watch Pooja now read, still a little halting, but with pride and a sense of achievement. At the same time she is learning the finer aspects of block printing & sewing. Pooja is extremely happy aat Street Smart.She works with a great sense of belonging.

Her family was trying to marry her off this summer. Her stubbornness rose to the fore again as she demanded another year of training, earning, studying and most importantly, independence. Most times our work is one day at a time; sometimes it is one year at a time. We are good with that.

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