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From a Chawl to a Private School: How a Stranger’s Compassion Changed This Woman’s Life

From a Chawl to a Private School: How a Stranger’s Compassion Changed This Woman’s Life

A young woman's account of a stranger's kindness that helped shape her life has been shared through a viral post by Humans of Bombay.

We have often come across people speaking of that ‘one’ person who played a significant role in shaping up the course of their lives.

A role model or a guiding force, many have attributed the boundless support they received to their parents, friend or a mentor that helped them find their true calling.

For some, though, angels come in the guise of a stranger, and leave a long-lasting impact in their lives.

A post shared by Humans of Bombay includes a heartwarming account of a woman who speaks of her ‘angel’ and has garnered extensive love and support from social media users.

From living in a room made of sheets of tin and plastic in a chawl, to studying at a private school and becoming the Head Girl, she sheds light over the extraordinary turn of events in her life — all because of a stranger’s compassion, whom she calls Anjali didi.

Studying at a municipal school, where hardly any learning happened, and teachers made the children wash their tiffins, the change in the young woman’s life came when she joined the Akansha Foundation for an after school supplementary programme.

After seeing her passion for studying, Anjali didi enrolled her and eight others in a private school and continued to remain her support system when the going got tough.

You can read the complete story in her own words as shared in the Humans of Bombay post on Facebook:

Growing up, my family home was a room made of sheets of tin and plastic on the main road. Our slum used to ‘steal’ electricity from the BMC lines, we used to have to wait in line for hours for water and leaking roofs were the least of our problems. Abba was a chef at a small catering company…he didn’t earn a lot but he loved us tremendously. My father was my best friend, which is why I still feel like I had a great childhood. 

I went to a Municipal school where most of my friends had an alcoholic father or faced domestic violence. Our school itself was so bad — our teachers used to treat us like servants. They used to make us wash their tiffins, come to class to just sleep and my Math teacher would smoke in class, in front of all of us. But my parents really wanted us to study and make something of ourselves, so when I was 4 I joined Akanksha, an after school supplementary programme.  

I never told my father these stories, because I knew that he couldn’t afford a private school, but I used to tell Anjali Didi at Akanksha. She was from an affluent background, but she changed all our lives. When we told her these stories, she felt like our talents were being wasted, so in the 9th standard she sent me and 8 others from my class to a private school — she paid for all of us from her own pocket. 

You may also like: Meet the Human Behind the Popular ‘Humans of Bombay’ Page

Everything I am today is because of Anjali Didi. When I joined this new school, I didn’t know anything — I didn’t even know that different teachers teach different subjects — so I failed my 9th Grade twice. I was so upset that I’d let her down that I asked her if I should quit — and she didn’t take no for an answer. She pushed me to work harder…when there was no electricity at home, she would stay back at the centre with me and help me study. Around this time, I lost my father and that was really difficult to deal with, but with Anjali didi’s support, I managed to clear my exams and even became the Head Girl of my school. 

After my 10th, I began to work to help my mother at home and as luck would have it — I even got into Xaviers and my dream of becoming a filmmaker was so close! However, my mother was facing so many financial problems. She used to work, but she even borrowed a lot of money and it hurt me when people humiliated her…so this is when I considered stopping college and starting to work full time.

Again, Anjali didi spoke to me and said, ‘education is important — you have big dreams, of traveling the world, of making your mother travel…how will you do all of it if you don’t study?’ I listened to her — my entire life at college was either about studying or working. I had multiple part time jobs — from being a ticket collector at theatres to working in call centres, I took up any job I was offered.

I guess it all paid off because I got a job at Future East films straight out of college and now I work full time with Education World. On Sundays I teach the girls from my community all day — and it’s so gratifying to give back. My dream of travelling the world with my mother is still alive, but a far bigger dream…which I strive to achieve every single day is being an ‘Anjali Didi’ in someone’s life.

You can reach out to the Akansha Foundation here.

Featured image source: Humans of Bombay.

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