Gunjan Meet-GunjanMeet Gunjan – From unskilled and unemployed to now serving customers in a busy cafe Until around half a year ago, Gunjan, a 19 years old girl living in the slum area of R.K. Puram in the South of Delhi, has been pursuing her bachelor’s degree with no real prospect of a stable future. A programme made possible through the help of Maitri in close collaboration with Teach India, an initiative by the Times Group, brought new possibilities that could change her life for good. Seven months ago, Gunjan enrolled in the English-speaking programme. Over a period of three months, among other teenage girls and young women who finished their basic education, she took part in many intense trainings and classes that provided a sound knowledge and skill of the English language that is compulsory for many potential jobs. After the successful completion of this programme and with the remarkable support of Teach India she was able to find a decent job within a very short period of time. Even though her family was not entirely convinced that working would be the right way to go for her, she decided to make this step. For four months now, she’s been working in a café where most of the customers demand English-speaking personnel. As an additional challenge, there are frequent situations where she is the only staff member in the entire café, meaning she has to take of every task along the process of serving the customers. Due to her fast learning curve and the strong support of her boss, Gunjan was able to advance from the role of a team member to the merchandiser. She even plans to continue working harder in order to become a brew master, which would be the next level. From her salary, which is mainly completely dedicated to increase her family’s income, she delightfully purchased a new phone and a few nice dresses. Beside a fixed salary and many personal growths, Gunjan now enjoys an increased self-confidence, one of the most important developments within that period in time. Without the intense programme and the support of so many different people being involved, she hardly could’ve achieved. She wants to keep this development going and continue her education by completing her bachelor’s degree. All in all, she is so grateful for everything that was provided to her, ‘I’m happy now’, she sums up. Shanana, Age 19 Rising Above Shahana comes from a large family of 11 children where her father does not support education for women. She found it difficult to pursue her education, and many times wondered if she should give up. Even though she didn’t have her father’s support, her mother encouraged her to come to Maitrigram classes. Shahana is very motivated to succeed and to learn, and attended class regularly while studying hard. She passed the first level at Maitrigram after only seven months and has already enrolled in the second level of classes. “Even if I do not have support from my family to find work in the future, I am happy that I have at least gained the skills to help stitch my family’s clothing”, she says. Despite the disapproval Shahana receives from her father, she continues to feed her aspirations and her education. She understands the importance of studying and working hard, and continues to persevere and achieve. Rekha, Age 19 Dreaming Above and Beyond Rekha comes from an impoverished family in the Nehru Ekta Camp slum in New Delhi, where she lives together with her parents, three sisters, and one brother. Since her father works all day as a driver and her mother is unwell, Rekha shoulders most of the household responsibilities. The constant pressure to run the household while taking care of her mother and siblings has made it difficult to pursue her education. Rekha is determined to study, succeed, and become financially independent. But these things are difficult to achieve without the proper support. Her drive to learn and grow brought her to Maitrigram, where she has been taking sewing lessons for the past five months, while taking non-regular college courses. She is learning practical skills to expand her economic options and continuing her education as well. Rekha is proud of the basic skills she has gained at Maitrigram and is excited to learn to sew more intricate things like Women’s suits. Rekha appreciates being able to sew clothes for her family and dreams of opening her own tailoring boutique in the future. Rekha has a lot of responsibility having to look after her siblings and mother, which is a task that is both time-consuming and requires a lot of energy. With these kinds of obligations, it is difficult to pursue one’s own ambitions. Rekha works hard to fulfil her family duties, while also learning new skills that can benefit her economically as well as give her more opportunities. Dipti Working towards a brighter future Dipti is 11 years old and in class six at the Government S.V. R.K. Puram Public School in New Delhi, India. Her father is a private service man and her mother, a housewife. Due to the low wages that Dipti’s father earns she is unable to receive the supportive education she needs and is a first generation learner with no coaching available at home. Dipti has been attending Maitri’s Tutorial Centre for the past six months and aspires to be a doctor someday. Her hobbies include singing, drawing, and studying. She looks forward to coming to Maitri each day for help with her school work and especially likes the Nutrifit snack she regularly receives. Since coming to the Tutorial Centre, Dipti has improved in her English, Math, and Hindi skills. Dipti’s life is one that is all too common among many underprivileged young girls in India. Despite it or perhaps because of it she anticipates striving hard to fulfil her dreams. Mahima Majhi, Age 11 A Space for Learning “I study in the 6th class and have been a part of Maitri for four years. I have a younger brother and two older sisters. My father works as a security guard and my mother as a cook in nearby places. I feel that Maitri has given me the self-confidence and the skills to speak in front of people. I learned this from taking part in some cultural activities. I used to get very nervous but the teachers at Maitri have helped me a lot. The teachers also helped me improve my reading skills and tackle subjects that I find difficult in school. It’s nice because at my school the teacher does not have time to help all the students. I’m lucky that Maitri provides me with an environment to study because I don’t have that at home because our house is very full and active, and my parents both work a lot. Someday, I want to become a doctor. I know that it will be difficult but because of my hard work, I know I can do it!” With a busy family life and an overcrowded school, it can be difficult for a student to devote the proper time and attention to schoolwork. Without the proper influence and encouragement in these situations it is easy to fall behind or even give up all together. Mahima utilizes the services offered by Maitri to get the extra help with her schoolwork to give her the chance to succeed.