Monika, 19, lives in Bajuhedi village of the Haridwar district in Uttarakhand. Her father has a disability and her mother stays at home to take care of him and Monika’s siblings. Her elder brother works as a plumber and shoulders the family’s responsibilities. The family lives on a monthly income of less than ₹5000.
Monika could see her mother and brother’s struggle in bringing up the family. As a result, she decided to leave her studies and support her family.
“I was in class eight when I quit school. I saw my mother work hard every day and somehow, I wanted to reduce her household burden,” shares Monika. She started helping her mother in cooking, cleaning and taking care of her younger siblings.
But her mother was a determined lady. She fully understood the urgent need for Monika to continue her education and be able to stand on her feet. The fact that she herself had to drop out of school due to early marriage further strengthened her resolve.
She knew about the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Kaushalya Yojana (DDU-GKY) and decided to seek their help. Sudipta, a mobiliser from DDU-GKY Uttarakhand, met Monika and counselled her directly. “When I heard about free training, hostel facility and a guaranteed job, I jumped with joy,” says Monika with a smile.
Today, Monika is pursuing a three-month cooking course. Apart from cooking, the programme also provides training in soft skills, spoken English and personality development.
She wakes up early morning, has a quick breakfast and goes to her class. After classes, she plays badminton and carrom with her friends. This is also the time when she revises her lessons and relaxes.
Currently, she is looking forward to completing her course. “For the entire family, the happiest moment was when I attended my first class,” she remembers. “There were tears in my mother’s eyes. It was her dream that I should get educated and stand on my feet. I want to do well and fulfil her wish.”
Monika is now a role model for other girls in her village. Her decision to step out of the comfort of her village has given a lot of support to other women and girls in the village.