|SHE scholarship students gathered to meet with us and share their dreams|
YGB started SHE, Scholarship for Higher Education in 2013. During this visit, I met in total of 64 high school and college students this scholarship is funding in Karantaka and West Bengal states. I knew that each person comes from a very difficult financial background, but I did not realize until I met and listened to each student that YGB's SHE scholarship truly is the only chance they got to continue their education. Most girls in West Bengal would have been married off or sent to work otherwise.
Here are two personal stories that clearly shed light to these poor girls' circumstances. Rekha Naskar lives in Sibsuti Village, south of Kolkotta, West Bental, with her parents. She is the only child. Her father is a seasonal agriculture laborer and barely manages to maintain his family's daily needs. Both her parents are interested in Rekha's education, but due to the absolute lack of money, they had decided not to admit her to school and marry her off. She is only 17 years old. NISHTHA social workers identified Rekha's situation and offered SHE scholarship.
Today she is in Standard XI, equivalent of senior in high school. Rekha's mother told us, "I do not want my daughter to live like me."---sadly, this is the most common message I hear from all the mothers we meet. Equally, I can not help but feeling strong hope that this new generation of daughters can become real change makers in their society. They have experienced and seen their mother's lives, poverty, gender discrimination and all the socio economic illness associated with poverty. Education is the only key for them to lift up themselves. I am proud to state that YGB is committed to give each person 5 years of scholarship for them to get a degree and advance in their lives.
SHE's support came just in time and she now continues her education with her dream to become a teacher.
As I interviewed each student, I felt so empowered to learn their commitment for higher education with this scholarship. NISHTHA Director Mina Das explained about the reality. "Drop-out rate for girls in higher education is currently 80%, leading to frequent child marriage or trafficking; female literacy remains at 60.22% in this region. Tutoring in computer and English, as well as social workers’ regular counseling, are needed to guide the girls to becoming strong citizen of society. As of today, a non-governmental organization NISHTHA is supporting nearly 4500 of the most vulnerable girls in this region and has identified girls to benefit immediately from this SHE scholarship. We expect that at least 70% of SHE recipients will achieve graduation from high school level education."
It costs only about $25 a month for these teen students to continue their education in West Bengal and Karanataka states. This program is as significant as micro loans for impoverished mothers. SHE Scholarship seeds an incredible opportunity for these teens to become change makers, real leaders in the community to fight against poverty, injustice and inequality because they know it so well what these social illnesses can do to a human being.
SHE scholarship program is sponsored by PURE International, YogaFit, anonymous donors and YGB's global community's support. Thank you everyone and this program will develop into a very hopeful project and I will continue to film stories of students to share with you in the coming years.