***Interview by Jane Mellema***
Insha* is daughter of one of our lady artisan managers. She is a bright teenager with a keen mind and excellent work ethic. She is not a whiner. Recently I interviewed Insha about her schooling and her hopes for the future. She just received her exam results, and we are thrilled to say she passed! She can continue her studies to the next level! What are her hopes? What are her dreams? Because of who she is, it seems that her hopes could become reality. We can't clap hard enough!!
My questions and comments will be in bold print and Insha’s in normal print.
Jane: How did your exams go?
Insha: All went well!
What was the best?
Sanskrit, yes. Sanskrit and SST – History.
Now which class are you about to begin?
When you were young, you went to school?
Until what age?
There in the village? I studied until the 6th class.
How old were you?
After that, you stopped?
Why did you stop?
Because we moved to the big city.
And why did you come to the big city?
(we know that it was because of financial and health difficulties that the family moved).
And when you were young, how did you like school?
I liked it.
And when did you start again?
When I was fifteen.
So between twelve to fifteen, how did you like it?
It was strange. For three years I didn’t go to school.
The first day you went back, what were you feeling?
I was feeling afraid?
Of what? People?
Kids, teachers, how the studies would be.
And in the beginning, was it hard?
When did it become better?
After ten to fifteen days.
Only ten to fifteen days?! Why did it get better so quickly?
I found friends?
You found good friends?
They helped you and now you have caught up?
What is your favorite subject?
Sanskrit, Hindi, also science.
What is the hardest?
The questions are difficult
You like math?
So it’s not good? She shakes her head
When you finish, what do you want to be?
When you weren’t in school, what were you thinking about the future?
I wasn’t thinking anything at all about the future, Jane sister.
What were you thinking?
I was just working and passing time.
And now what are you thinking about the future, about marriage and children?
She wrinkles her nose and shakes her head.
The coming days?
More study. More study.
So no marriage?
How long will it take?
Five years after school
So this is your dream? She nods
My dad liked it very much that you wanted to be a doctor. He said your mind is bright, and it is possible. For this to happen, what will need to be done?
(my dad is a doctor and visited in February and met Insha – he was impressed by her)
For this, you need to study bioscience.
And you like that?
So this is a five year program?
No – not at this school. I will have to go to college. In this school, two years, then after that a three year college.
And after that, doctor?
So will you need to save money?
For whom? Papa and my brother will…..
So they will pay for all? They like that you want to be a doctor?
Yes, it is papa’s dream.
That’s great! Do you think it is harder for girls to become a doctor or to study?
No, if you will study, nothing is difficult.
And after you are a doctor, will you marry?
Now there is no plan, Jane sister.
So when you were younger, when you went back to school, how did that happen? Did someone tell you you should go?
A teacher came to the store.
To get clothes made. At this time, I went to the shop a lot to learn the work, to learn to sew. The teacher saw me and asked papa, “who is that?” Papa said “It’s my daughter.” She asked “she’s not studying?” “no” papa said, “she has stopped school and is working.” The teacher said “put her in school.” Papa said “I will.” It happened like this continually and two years passed. Every week she came. Eventually, she took me.
So after two years, Papa let you go and he thought it was a good idea?
And at the same time, your sister?
So now you don’t feel fear?
Good. Sometimes at the beginning, new things can be scary or cause tension.
Yes. But slowly, slowly it will be okay.
How encouraging to see that Insha has a dream, and her father wants to make it happen! There are many fathers in Indian culture (especially in poor and uneducated communities) who do not find education of any value for their daughters. Marriage is what these girls are destined for. We rejoice when girls and young women are given the opportunity to study and have their minds opened and their worlds expanded! We can't clap hard enough!
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