As you know, through my work at Bodhi Tree Foundation, I get the opportunity to work with young girls who have immense potential but are limited by social barriers, such as those of demography, caste, class, gender and sexual orientation.
The stories my girls relate to me often remind me of the saying attributed to Seneca: ‘Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.’ Having done 100+ home visits this year and having seen firsthand where my girls live and come from and where they have been, how much struggle they would’ve faced to attend college, I feel hopeless.
At this crucial juncture that is the pandemic, my girls hate their life in the villages a little more. Colleges and free hostels in the pre-pandemic era were places for safety, survival and solace for them. Their homes, for the most part, are led by single mothers, aunts and uncles or by their grandparents. The learning situation there is not conducive.
My girls are going to need us more than before to help them navigate through the extra pressures of poverty and the pronounced impact of gender expectations. They need to negotiate harder with their families because now their education will be deprioritized. They will be convinced to drop out of college/get married early and take on additional responsibilities at home. My girls need our support because they are already dealing with tendencies of self harm and low self esteem.
This year we are going to respond in three ways
To continue doing our work of instilling resilience and confidence and support them in their journey through life skills
To give monetary support for girls who are in the first and second year of college to pay college fees and exam fees and meet incremental needs
To start a 3 month program for 30 girls who are graduating this year to deepen their resolve in taking charge of their lives.
I am forever grateful to you for all your financial, social and emotional support to me and the youth of Bodhi Tree these many years. Now I write to you soliciting your financial support once more in this hour of need.
- Enhance Motivation, confidence, belief and awareness for self and society.
- Broaden vision for potential
- Widen exposure to opportunities
- Devise action plan for future
The rural girls we work with comes from economically low income background, almost all of them are first generation college goers, whose parents are unskilled labourers( coolie) living in interior villages of Tirunelveli, Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari. We know some of our youth come from disturbed backgrounds it becomes essential for them to have a safe space and learn life skills to help them to survive through the life
Growing up in rural India, and listening to the narratives of how unwanted a girl child is, how there is no expectations from a girl except growing up to be a presentable young woman who can get a decent spouse, I always felt the lack of a safe space for girls to express themselves and explore their talent and widen their horizons. Through Bodhi Tree Foundation’s initiative, we want to create a space for girls to be themselves, to claim their dreams and to shape their world