Javli Bai is a strong woman who stands firm on what she believes in. While this is in no way a bad thing, her misplaced belief system almost cost her daughters a great deal.
A while back Javli Bai, like so many other parents in her village, was very adamant about not sending her daughters to school, “Educated girls get funny ideas into their heads and could run away or take their own decisions, which would of course be wrong”.
When some staff members from Educate Girls first visited her home, she didn’t welcome them, spewing accusations while ordering them to leave. For 6 months every attempt on part of the Field Coordinator or Team Balika (community volunteer) was met with a similar reaction. “I wasn’t being rude that time. I was doing what I knew was best for my daughters. I was protecting them from what I thought could ruin their life, their chance at having a good home and marriage in the future,” says Javli Bai.
In spite of these constant rejections, Educate Girls’ Field Coordinator Gaurav Joshi did not give up. A well-respected village elder observed his futile attempts and sympathetically offered to accompany Gaurav. Javli Bai finally heard what Gaurav had to say. The elder added his voice in support and Javli Bai agreed to send her daughters to school, albeit hesitantly.
Today, Swetha* and Leena* regularly go to school. They still have to take care of their siblings after school and contribute to house work but are getting along well at school. Javli Bai is now more understanding about the benefits of education and during various conversations with Gaurav, is opening up her mind to seeing things differently to what she so strongly believed in before. “I used to always push the Educate Girls’ team out of my house every time they came to ask me to send my daughters to school. Now, I’m glad that I agreed. Maybe education will be good for the girls… hopefully they get to do some better things in the future.”
Working to dispel discriminating cultural stereotypes is a difficult task. However, as seen with Javli Bai, with perseverant effort, it is possible!
*Names changed to protect the identity of the minors.