As a woman in rural India, life doesn’t give you choices. You either stand up and create your own choices, or you stay put and give in. Lalita created hers by swimming against the current of life in the village she comes from, and getting an education that guaranteed her independence.
A giggling 25-year-old Lalita responds to a colleague complementing her lunch, “I don’t know how to cook chickpeas. My husband cooked them. But, I do help him by making rotis!”
Lalita has come a long way from her village, Fatehpur, in the Anupshahr tehsil of district Bulandshahr, UP. Like many girls from her village, Lalita was attending the local government school in Anupshahr when she heard of a new girls’ school that had opened its doors to the underprivileged in that area. She looked on enviously at the girls with their crisp yellow and green uniforms and their new books. Some even had new bicycles to go to school on!
It took Lalita almost a year of convincing her parents before they agreed to let her join the Pardada Pardadi Education Society (PPES) School. Next year, Lalita was among the 200 out of 900 girls selected for admission into the school that chooses students based on need and not academic performance.
On graduating high school in 2011, a brand new opportunity opened up in front of Lalita. A group of five girls from her graduating class were going to be selected to study on scholarship in Bangalore at NTTF (Nettur Technical Training Foundation).
With great trepidation, she approached her family. Between her and her guidance counsellors, they managed to make her parents see the potential in the opportunity, and in Lalita.
Fast-forward to three years later, and a fiercely independent Lalita made her way to Gurgaon after her graduation to start her first job in the accounts department of a corporate organisation.
In those three years, she had grown in to a well-educated young woman, and had fallen in love too.
A year-and-a-half into her job, Lalita decided that she wanted to do something more. She turned her eyes towards her Alma Mater. She reached out to the school, and discovered that the organisation was expanding its accounts department. It was almost like the Gods were smiling down on her.
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Lalita joined PPES as a junior accountant, and immediately took over the liaising between the accounts department of the school in Anupshahr and the head office in Delhi. Helping the Anupshahr team keep their accounting in place has her travelling to the school regularly, where she often talks to current students about what accounts is and how to go about pursuing accountancy as a career.
She is an indispensable part of the Delhi team, where she ensures that the team is able to work like clockwork because of her meticulous record-keeping.
Having settled into her role at the very institution that gave her the opportunity to follow her dreams, she recently geared up for a new battle—to marry the man she loves, and choose her own life partner.
In a community where girls are married off before they turn 18, Lalita spent close to a year fighting her extended family and society for her right to marry the person she considered right for her, and succeeded.
Today, happily married to the love of her life, this young woman is giving back to the school that helped her come into her own.
She is working with PPES to help thousands of other girls from Anupshahr spread their wings and soar.
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