Dreaming Big and Beyond the Limits

Dreaming Big and Beyond the Limits

Female infanticide and foeticide, child marriage and gender discrimination - these are some of the taboos a girl must fight against in Rajasthan. Harsh would be too subtle a word to describe this situation, just like strong would be too weak a word to describe Radha.

Radha is 15 years old; her ambitions in life far exceed the limits of her community.

She stays with her parents and three siblings in a small village in Lunkaransar, Rajasthan. Living in a village, Radha has accustomed herself to the lifestyle - attending school in the morning and helping out at the house in the evening and on weekends. Her chores include bringing water from the well, washing the utensils, feeding the cattle and occasionally lending a hand in the fields. This lifestyle did not excite her nor was she willing to accept the faith decided for her by a backward community.

Radha realised that her family’s poor financial condition was not enough to sustain her dreams. Furthermore, she felt a certain amount of responsibility to support them as well. Just how, she did not know.

It was just another ordinary day when Radha was approached by a member of Plan India’s Financial Education and Life Skills (FELS) project. As part of the project, she became a member of the Aflatoun Club, a children’s group that is teaching children about the importance of money and saving for the future.

Radha is one of the most active members of the Aflatoun Club and even conducts meetings for the group.

Speaking about the project she says, “This is the first time that such an informative and important subject has been introduced to us. It not only encourages good habits but also shows us the path to overcoming hardship through financial entrepreneurship.”

As part of the project, Radha attended a workshop that taught children how to earn money by making products out of raw material. Being bright and determined, she set her mind on earning a bit of money.

She decided to make paper bags with material she bought from her savings (which she collected after joining the club). Apart from that, she also made chandeliers, door hangings and bracelets out of plastic beads and sold them on Diwali.

“So far, I have managed to save INR 1,200. I know I am not in a position to support my family financially right now but I am happy that I have started earning.”

Radha's parents are exceedingly proud of her and what she has accomplished so far. Her grandmother, a staunch believer in her remarks, "Men don't like it when a girl or woman has dreams and ambitions. We need to fight to carve a future for ourselves. Radha is too headstrong to give in."

Her parents are keen to see her continue with her education. They hope she can save enough money to support herself and perhaps her siblings. "I don't care what the community has to say or think. All I want is to see my children succeed in life."

With such willpower and confidence, Radha is well on the way to paving a better future for herself. She has set her mind on becoming a police officer when she grows up.

Written by: - Brian Boye, Communications Officer