Anjali’s determination to get a good education helped her overcome several obstacles. Today, she is studying hard to become a police officer so she can end domestic violence.
Fourteen-year-old Anjali is easily one of the happiest children in Bharat Vihar, an economically weaker section of South West Delhi. Her ever-smiling face and boundless energy differentiate her from other children. Poverty and family problems pose no deterrent to this girl, who faces her problems unflinchingly and continues to dream big.
Anjali wants to be a police officer and she is slowly steering her life in that direction.
“I just want to study because I know that education is the only route to realizing my dream,” she says with a determination and confidence that completely belie her age.
Anjali’s story is quite unique; one that CRY volunteers proudly hold up as an example to others. Usually, volunteers are the ones forced to convince parents about the importance of a good education but in Anjali’s case, it was the young girl who relentlessly pursued the volunteers and sought their help to get admitted into a school.
Tapesh, a CRY volunteer who has worked closely with Anjali says:
“Initially, we were taken aback by her zeal and determination. She was so sure that she could study despite the challenges. Over time, we worked together to make things happen. She has definitely changed our mindset and our approach”
Born into an underprivileged family, Anjali loved going to school from the very beginning. In fact, it was her persistence that made her father, a daily wage labourer, enroll her in a nearby school. As her family grew in size, however, her chances of continuing her education began to look bleak. With five siblings to take care of, managing both school and home became increasingly difficult.
Anjali was finally forced to drop out of school when her youngest brother was born, four years ago. With both her parents working, the responsibility of taking care of her siblings as well as her house fell squarely on Anjali’s shoulders. Although discontinuing her studies was a huge letdown for her, Anjali never let it bog her down
“Even as a kid, Anjali used to love studying. Making her leave school was a necessity for us. Though Anjali was very upset with us, she never let that affect her responsibility towards her family,”says Anjali’s mother Rajkumari, with a look of pride in her eyes.
“I love learning new things. Going to school is really exciting. Every day is a learning experience for me,” pitches in Anjali with a mischievous smile.
Things changed for Anjali last year when volunteers working in the area found out about her passion to study and approached her parents.
Initially, her parents were very skeptical about putting their oldest daughter back in school. But regular interaction and encouragement from the volunteers forced them to come around. That day proved to be the turning point for Anjali, who marched forward with a renewed determination
However, the road ahead was not so easy. Bridging the three year gap was a challenge. With no academic, social or government documents, getting her enrolled in a school also proved to be difficult.
While some volunteers got busy arranging her documents, Anjali, in addition to managing her household chores, started attending remedial classes held by CRY on a regular basis. Such was her hunger for learning that she also began to attend remedial classes held by others in her area whenever she had the time. Being an active participant in all the sessions and activities, Anjali picked up the basics quickly. Her performance in these classes even inspired other kids to do better. Her enthusiasm even encouraged kids in her neighborhood to start attending these remedial classes themselves.
With time, training and dedication Anjali was finally able to get admission in 6th grade at a government school near her house.
“The admission was a month long process and I was very restless during that time. I kept checking on my status time and again. The day I was told about my admission was the happiest day for me. I couldn’t stop jumping around for a few days after that,” says a beaming Anjali.
Even in the midst of frugality, this young girl displays large heartedness. “I will bring you a gift, since you have made me so happy,” she promises the volunteers with whom she has now become good friends.
Anjali’s dream of becoming a police officer is also not just a random wish. It stems from a keen observation and understanding of her surroundings.
“I have always seen men get aggressive and violent towards women and I don’t like it at all. When I become a police officer, I want to bring about a change in the attitude of my community and put an end to domestic violence,” she says.
Such mature thoughts coming from a 14-year-old show that Anjali is no ordinary girl. Her focus and determination is both awe-inspiring and infectious. She is a true role model, not just for her siblings but for others in her locality as well.