Life doesn’t exactly seem favourable when you dream of becoming a Police officer one day, and then your financial burdens end up halting your education just before you enter high school!!
In a family of four in Indra Nagar, Govandi, lives Shaheen. The family is completely dependent on the older son who drives an autorickshaw.
At the age of 25, Shaheen came across Bright Future through her friend. Through the course, she got to know that even though her childhood dream may seem like a myth, she doesn’t have to abandon the idea of having a job and easing her family’s situation. She worked really hard on herself and practiced public speaking, understanding how to be professional and communicate well with customers as well as colleagues. She got exposed to the skills required for an interview and through rigorous mock sessions, she got the hang of the process.
Looking at her former life, Shaheen says, “I want to make a change in my community so that every girl should get educated”. She has taken the first step by becoming an independent and diligent woman herself. Alongside her own development, the facilitators helped her establish firm communication with her family.
Now, Shaheen Sayyed is working as a sales worker at the Mandi Store. She is very glad to have secured a full time job which has lessened the financial strain in her family and she is, day by day, proving that if you give it your best, it is never too late to turn your circumstances around for the better. She looks forward to making her dream a reality one day!
Babita lives in Ramabai Nagar, Ghatkopar with her family of 9 members. Her father is an auto driver while her mother is a housewife. Her older sister has studied up till the 10th grade only, while out of Babita’s two older brothers one is married and another is studying. Babita has completed her graduation and unlike her sister, she didn’t want to sit at home. Rather, she wants to build a career.
Since there was no one to support her education and being a girl, her family told her that she was supposed to learn household chores only. To help find a way out of all this, Babita joined Bright Future. She says that she enjoys spending time at Bright future as she feel at home here. She is an enthusiastic person, always eager to learn and experiment with new things. At Bright Future, the facilitator encouraged her with leadership skills which she was able to conceive well. Gradually, her mother became the biggest support for her.
She is an active aspirant who is always raising questions regarding whatever is being taught and is developing into a better person each day. The positive environment that the facilitators at the center, surround her with, inspires her to live her life as an optimist. They also helped her get admission to the 1st year of graduation.
Babita doesn’t like the culture she belongs to. Here women are bound to all household chores and in preparing themselves to one day become a wife to some man. Her father keeps reminding her time and again that she doesn’t belong there and will be married off soon. She wants her family and community to understand equality, the meaning of education and why these are equally important for girls along with their consent, their interest and liberty.
18 years old Palak Pandey comes from Nalasopara and is someone who believes in combatting every difficulty and not giving up before overcoming them. After graduating from high school, her studies got interrupted due to the lockdown and eventually, she found Bright Future.
In times of uncertain financial instability, Palak wanted to reinstate some balance or at least act as a support. At Bright Future, she worked on her communication skills, practiced acing interviews, and learned to improve her speech into a more assertive one. As she gained further knowledge and worked hard to build her confidence, her perspective towards jobs and the entire process of applying and getting interviewed changed. She shares her experience by saying, “I had a lot of issues in communication, I would know what to say but I did not feel confident about how to say and also did not know how to speak in front of people, how to make presentations. I was quite lost since I missed a year of college.”
Palak is currently working in Bajaj Alliance General Insurance in the department of policy sales. She earns Rs. 7000 per month and is glad that she can help her family during a financial crisis. “I will always be connected to Bright Future where I gained confidence and was made to feel hopeful about my future”.
Tasleem resides in a joint family of 12 people in Ghatkopar. As she studies, she helps her mother around at home and also assists her father, who is a tailor. As a 22 year old woman, Tasleem finds her community very narrow minded. Her family prioritizing her marriage over her future, her being unable to travel anywhere without a hijab and the neighbouring ladies trying to intervene in their household makes her feel caught up and unhappy. In order to make her parents understand why she needs to work and support them financially, she joined Bright Future.
Initially she hesitated to participate in open discussions, but gradually, she began speaking up and performed well in mock interviews as well as other skill-based training sessions. Tasleem also took in every little information she could, along with the positive atmosphere at the centre in order to adopt a more optimistic outlook towards life. She was very focused and thus was successful in cracking the interview which landed her a job at Reliance Smart.
Now, she has started contributing to family expenses, learning more by herself and researching for data as well as resources that will help her two younger sisters stand on their feet too, once they’ve grown up. Seeing her manage things this way, her family also agreed to not rush her marriage and let her grow as a person who seeks to actualize her dreams.
Lastly, Tasleem quotes what she has come to believe during her time facing all these challenges, “The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing”.
“Small steps can lead to big changes.” Is a motto Shivani Tiwari lives by. She is an 18 year old girl who lives with her parents and two older brothers in Nalasopara. Due to the lockdown in view of the worsening condition of the pandemic last year, Shivani couldn’t move on to pursue a degree in Bachelor of Commerce, as she had intended to. That is when she found Bright Future and the courses offered there, and got enrolled.
In a new environment, she faced some problems with starting a conversation in any professional place, what to say in interviews and how to convey ideas formally. She had confidence issues as well. In response to these initial challenges, Shivani said, “The mock interviews helped me a lot. I learnt what kind of questions can be asked and how to respond to them. I also learned a lot about body language, sales and computers.”
She also recounts other fruitful activity sessions on conflict resolution. These, she says, were really helpful in learning how to talk to customers, how to deal with complaints, how one can find a middle ground between both parties to end a conflict, etc. Apart from this, personal grooming, communication skills and methods of handling queries were also taught to her, which she picked up quickly.
Right now, Shivani has a job at Bajaj Alliance General Insurance Company. She works there as a policy sales person, earning a stipend of 7000 per month. Later, she intends to start working somewhere else so that she might get a better salary and can sponsor her own studies. Shivani concludes by saying, “I will like to be associated with Bright Future always”.
This story of Soni Bharti, a young bright girl from Malad would inspire you to go ahead and get involved in transforming various social issues around. Soni has 5 siblings, her father works as an electrician and her mother is a homemaker. Her family does not really support her education and would rarely even appreciate her achievements. Owing to the tight financial situation she has been associated with, Soni began looking for help and soon was introduced to Bright Future’s Livelihood Program.
As Soni believed in acquiring industry related skills to become job ready, she decided to opt for the 3 months free of cost program. She learned various skills such as communication skills, computer skills and leadership skills and has managed to crack a backend telecalling job through Bright Future.
Soni is extremely keen on social work, during the times of covid she had formed a team to run free of cost temperature checkups in her area and received a certificate from the BMC for the same. She also had volunteered to work in a hospital owing to the employee shortage. Not only this, she had conducted a survey to understand the effect of the covid situation on girls and came up with astonishing research for which she was praised and soon will be awarded a certificate. During this survey she came across a mentally challenged girl who was not introduced to education. Soni out of humanity and concern started teaching her.
Truly at such a young age Soni inspires us to believe in the act of giving and doing our bit. Apart from all this, Soni loves to write, she has written various social related articles and newsletters. She dreams big and takes effort to bring them to life. She believes that challenges are the real teachers of one’s life.
You must have observed, particularly if you fall in the category of Gen Z and older, how your grandmothers belong to a period where women’s roles were limited within the threshold of household. In most cases, they pose as a contrasting image from that of your mother who is financially independent. Society has come a long way since then, as you may note.
Traditionally, women have been seen in a majority while fitting into the role of house wives, mothers, teachers and nurses. The first two roles can be observed under patriarchal societies while the other two usually lack male participation. With time and progress, women have started entering and succeeding in the non-traditional jobs too. We’re seeing an increase in the percentage of females opting for a career as surgeons, software engineers, police officers, pilots and corporate managers. As more and more involvement as well as gender inclusivity is being witnessed and encouraged, the overall conditions of women and the population as a whole seem to be positively progressing too. Recruiters and parents are acknowledging the skills and intellect brought into the workspace by women.
Now, even the defense services are amending their policies of admission as well as promotion to keep up with this growth. The job market, on various fronts, has started to look more diversified. One cannot deny that conventional gender roles are slowly fading away from a great amount of traditionally male-dominated fields. A widespread change such as this has effectively helped transform the lives of many women across the world. It has brought about a feminist revolution, more acceptance, credit and responsibility as a society.
Soon, the world might step onto a pedestal from where careers won’t come with the labels of ‘traditional’ and ‘non-traditional’, and it is our duty to make sure this fate seals itself completely.
The zeal to learn is indeed an incredible force guiding people to strive and actualize their potential to the fullest. Education, though understood as a right deserved by everyone, in reality, is only selectively distributed due to the unfair divides in our society. Belonging to a world such as this in the slum area of Kurla, Sapna Jatoliya (23) is one person whose journey is being supported by Bright Future, having recognized her skills and her dedication to turn her life around completely.
Her family moved to Kurla back in 2012 owing to the unsteady family business of shoemaking. This, amid the business not doing well, led to a four-year gap between her schooling since she was in the 8th grade. Belonging to an orthodox Rajasthani family, her parents thought it was not necessary to educate the girls and that they are supposed to be good at only managing a home. So Sapna learnt stitching and helped her father in the duration of this gap. Her education took a better turn only when she got introduced to Bright Future through her friend. She was keen in learning English basics of computers. Her parents allowed her to go for it since the courses wouldn’t burn a hole in their pockets either.
At Bright Future, Sapna began working on her confidence under her mentors’ guidance. She learnt how to converse effectively and have discussions, answer questions and ideate better. The career-related supervision helped her figure out her options, interests and also, to expand her skillset accordingly.
Sapna can be described as a motivated person and someone who had always been really good at studies, thus, she was keen on learning more and more. The four years long break her schooling underwent had left her upset, but through Bright Future, she got the job of a door-to-door salesperson. Despite her household’s financial condition not being favourable, she could now start earning for herself and could pay the fees with that money. This is where her schooling got back on track and she got enrolled into the 10th standard. Sapna learned to be independent little by little at that age.
Even though she had to get engaged the very next year and leave the job, Sapna did not lose heart and continued with her studies. She topped her 10th and 12th class examinations and her family understood and acknowledged her potential eventually.
“Each day puts forth a new challenge,” she says, “but you have to move forward and face them head on”.
Sapna is interning with Bright Future’s accounts now and is also helping out her family with stitching while simultaneously completing her education. Talking about Bright Future’s contributions towards her life and her own hard work, she shares, “There is a massive different between the Sapna who existed before she experienced the environment at Bright Future and the version of Sapna that stands before everyone today.”
Currently, she is a 2nd year student pursuing accounting and finance from Laxmichand College, Ghatkopkar. She aims to build a better life than what she’s been living till date. With her family’s support and a more positive home-environment than before, she’s no more tied down with the weight of marriage and has her priorities set.
“I don’t wish to be dependent on anyone and do what I have to do in life on my own terms.” She shares.
Four years ago, Anshu probably would not have known that he’ll encounter an opportunity to stir change in his life while he was at a playground. He fondly recalls how Arvind Lokhande, a former Change Leader at Bright Future approached him and his group of friends, offering bags, new clothes and a chance to learn operating a computer.
Hailing from Nalasopara East, Anshu Kumar Maurya has completed the Livelihood Program, a three-months’ long course at Bright Future and also worked as a Change Leader himself for one and a half years at Bright Future. After this, he also worked with Magic Bus India Foundation for another year and a half, and is currently doing volunteer work with Yuva.
Upon being asked about his time at Bright Future he shares, “I always thought that the knowledge of the English language is a prerequisite for learning how to operate a computer. But that’s not the case. You don’t need English to learn a computer and anyone can learn something if they really try.”
He also mentions how enriching the knowledge gain and skill development process had been for him at the center. His confidence increased significantly and he could speak in front of multiple people without faltering like before. He recounts his days as a memorable period.
Anshu is planning to stick to the field of social work, having been guided and motivated well by his mentors and the people he interacted through the course of his journey so far. This is truly a great example of giving back to the community and thriving.
To know more about Bright Future’s Livelihood Program that helped Anshu,
Ashutosh found Bright Future while dwelling in the slum areas near Ghatkopar. Coming from humble beginnings, this meeting became a chance for driving in change. During his time at the organization, he learnt English Communication, Work Place Readiness skills and customer relations. He was also groomed for interviews and understood how to introduce and conduct oneself during an interview.
Recounting the development, he experienced, Ashutosh says, “I used to be very conscious about speaking in front of four to five people. But now I can speak well on any given topic. I’ve also given lectures on specific topics now.”
Ashutosh is thankful for the mentors from Bright Future who helped him try to get admission into JP Morgan but due to his mother battling a serious illness, he couldn’t get into it. He then started working at TCS but later resigned during the lockdown to pursue an animation course.
Currently working from home, Ashutosh aims at honing this skill and working for the start-up he is planning along with his friend. He also hopes for the children living in slums to get the same shot at learning and education as he did so that everyone’s lives could head towards a better path.