Girls from the Nat Community who fought their way
5th July 2013 was a day of celebration at Apne Aap’s Bihar State Office. It took Apne Aap ten years of work in the red light areas of Uttari Rampur and Khawaspur and this year we have the first batch of girls from the Nat Community who have cleared their matriculation examination (Class X).
Apne Aap felicitated the girls—Najmin Khatun, Juhi Khatun, Poonam Khatun and Resham Khatun—and their mothers to acknowledge their struggles in overcoming challenges and to encourage them to continue with their studies and serve as role models for girls in their communities. The girls will continue on for further schooling in Patna, Bihar.
The Superintendant of Police (SP) Araria District was present at the occasion to distribute token gifts. Apne Aap Director Dr. Abhilasha Kumari gave gifts to the mothers. Also present were government officials, principals of schools & colleges, well-wishers, and the women and children from Uttari Rampur and Khawaspur. As the girls walked up the podium to proudly receive their awards, the sounds of claps grew louder, but one could not miss the tearful eyes of the mothers, who were perhaps reliving their own struggles! It was a pleasure to see the girls gather around the principal of their school in sheer joy.
Najmin scored a brilliant 71% and has the highest marks in her panchayat this year. She dreams of being an engineer. Najmin’s mother, Bibi Hasina (Meena) has been associated with Apne Aap since its inception and presently works as a community mobiliser.
A visibly emotional Hasina, who was trafficked when she was just 9 years old and forced into prostitution for years, said, “I feel like flying across, telling everybody that my daughter has made it…she has crossed the peheli manjil (first hurdle)…it is something that I could never dream of in my life.”
Juhi, who also scored a first division, emotionally acknowledged the contribution of her mother, saying “My mother, Ruchira didi, Tinku didi and Kalam mama – they have helped me to be what I am today.” Juhi is looking forward to her studies in Patna and wants to be a doctor.
Resham and Poonam, passing in second and third division, are also excited about their future studies in Patna. Poonam wants to be a lawyer. These girls are the first girls in their communities to demonstrate the importance of education in breaking the cycle of inter-generational prostitution in the Nat community.
All of the girls were put into KGBV (Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidhayala), Simraha run by Apne Aap and the State government of Bihar, after class V to ensure that they had a safe space where they could continue their education.
Along with these four girls, Pooja Kumari, Madhumala Kumari, and Sonam Kumari were also felicitated for their success on the board exams. All of them have been associated with Apne Aap’s Kishori Mandals and are from very vulnerable backgrounds. Apne Aap took this as an opportunity to encourage girls from red light areas who have passed out of KGBV this year to continue studies.