Posted by: helpachildtostudy | May 6, 2009

Heavy burdens on young shoulders

Currently I’m down in Northern Karnataka for the interviews of our newest batch of applicants for scholarships. We have 12 days of interviews planned to accommodate all of the applicants and on day 3 I have already heard such stories of struggle and hardship that all I can do is marvel at the bravery of the students who have already managed to get this far. The story that affected me most today was Kavita’s.

Generally Help A Child has cut offs in academic percentage for applicants, with 70% required for girls and 75% required for boys but occasionally there is good reason to make an exception. If there was ever a good reason, then it is definitely in Kavita’s case.

As the students arrived for the interviews, many of them with their parents, Kavita came in alone and sat at the front of the room, clutching her bag of documents. She was quiet and as I sat with my colleague Rekha we noticed that there were tears in her eyes. Rekha asked her why she was crying and Kavita’s answer was simple “Everybody has their parents or relatives to drop them, I have come alone.”

Kavita had scored 68% in her exams, missing the cut off mark for the scholarships, but as she told us her story I found it amazing that she had been able to score that much at all. Kavita’s parents are both dead, and while some relatives have provided her and her siblings a room to live in, they are not willing to take on the burden of fully providing for them.

At 16 years of age, Kavita is now the head of the family and the job of bringing up a 13 year old sister and two brothers aged 9 and 10 falls on her shoulders. Every day before she goes to school she leaves early to clean other people’s houses for a meagre wage, all in the hope of providing for her siblings. Kavita does not know what the future holds for them, telling us that if her relatives ask them to leave the house then they will have to go, not even a roof over their heads is certain. She wishes to become a teacher, as she knows that after graduating high school it is the degree that she will be able to finish in the least time to begin.

Kavita and her family’s future is still uncertain, there’s a long time to go before she can achieve her dream of becoming a teacher.



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