Tough to the core, this Mumbai girl teaches Karate to young girls of her locality and eyes a job in the Indian Army
There are people who bow down to the situations that pull them back. And there are people who rise to the occasion and turn the situation around, not only for themselves, but also for everyone around them. Pooja Jaiswar is one such girl who decided to take matters in her own hands when life threw her a tough one.
“Our financial conditions were bad. We had no means of completing our education,” says 18-year-old Pooja. “I wasn’t the smartest kid in my class and hence, wasn’t very keen to study further after my 10th standard. The terrible condition of finances at home did not encourage me either,” she adds. Her father works as a taxi driver but at times is forced to sit at home due to non-availability of work. The private taxi services like Ola and Uber have eaten into his daily income.
Pooja lives in a slum in Mankhurd, in the suburb of Mumbai. This is a place mostly populated with migrating communities from adjacent states. Education for girls is looked down upon in the community she lives in, and most girls are married off when they reach puberty.
“If not for CRY supported project Sparsh, I would not have been here today. They not only helped me complete my schooling but also funded my education. I got a personal mentor for my 11th and 12th standard. The area I live in is not safe for girls and molestation and rape cases are quite frequent. I started learning karate to keep myself safe,” she says adding that apart from studying in a college (she is pursuing her degree in commerce) she is also a teacher, teaching Karate to many young girls in four community centres of Sparsh.
“The situation for girls is terrible. There are so many restrictions on us! We keep hearing that girls should not go out as it is not safe. What people don’t understand is that crimes can take place anywhere, even inside the four walls of a room. This is why I want all girls, especially those living in the community I live in to become strong, confident and independent. They should be courageous enough to handle any kind of a situation. Also, financial independence is extremely important for every single person, regardless of their gender.”
Pooja claims her father is her strength; in spite of the financial issues and continuous taunts from the neighbours, he has never stopped his daughter from her pursuing her chosen path. In fact, he eggs her on to excel and become a successful and an independent woman. “He is proud of me and would cross all boundaries to see that my dreams come true. He wants me to complete my studies, get a good job and become independent,” she says further adding that she wants to earn and help orphans too.
“I want to join the army, as that would make me tough and independent. I will also get to travel to places and earn sufficiently for my family to realise their dreams and desires too,” she says.
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