Abhirami

Abhirami is fifteen years old, and thankfully she is able to attend school. Her mother unfortunately passed away a few years ago because of untreated cancer. The family didn’t have enough money to afford good doctors. Abhirami works really hard at science at the local corporation school so that she can study further to become a doctor.

“ I want to help families who can’t afford care so that more people won’t have to undergo the tragedy we did.” -Abhirami.

 She lives with her father, Velu, and she has his full support in this endeavor.

Rinki

Prasad lives in Kolkata and works for the Corporation. His daughter Rinki attends the local school and loves it, she is currently in grade 6. Prasad really wants her to receive a good education and hopes for her to accomplish her goals. In the future, he wants her to do whatever makes her the happiest, and as of now she is interested in being a doctor.

Jannat

madrasa girl

As we entered Korail during this weekend, we spotted a young girl with her father. She was about twelve years old, wearing a bright pink hijab. She seemed downcast and did not look at me. Her father was extremely reluctant to let us take a photograph. They grudgingly posed for us but refused to smile. Their behavior was a huge contrast to that of other enthusiastic fathers and daughters.

“What’s your name?” I asked her in Bangla.

“Jannat,” her father replied for her. Jannat means paradise.

Upon further questioning, I learned that she doesn’t attend school. She goes to a Madrassa, a religious learning center that doesn’t pay much attention to other subjects. When we were done with printing the polaroid, we handed it to them. They still didn’t smile. The father walked away. I asked Jannat about her favourite subject and she murmured “Arabic” and hurried away, eyes fixed on the ground.

I wonder what is going to happen to Jannat. Would she be scolded for talking to me? Would she ever attend college? What did her father want for her? She was almost my age, but our lives were so different. 

Lakhi

“It was the day of the Bangladesh- New Zeland world cup match and the people in Korail were watching it intently. Eleven-year-old Lakhi was dressed in her country’s colors to show her support. She and her father Alangir, a security guard, were thrilled with the idea of a picture of the two of them. She attends the local school and enjoys it immensely, both of them love spending time together.

Bulbul

 

Bulbul is the only child of Prem, who is a mistry doing odd jobs. They live in Tollygunge area in Kolkata. Bulbul goes to Class 1 in the local primary school. She is still not sure of what she wants to become when she grows up. Prem is keen on supporting her education and allowing Bulbul to follow her dreams.

Piya

Ashok Karmakar, a shopkeeper in Kolkata’s Tollygunge 54 basti smiles with his eight year old daughter Piya. She had just returned from her grade 3 lessons in school and was drawing near her father’s store as she’s passionate about art. He strongly believes in the completion of her education and wants her to follow her dreams. They were delighted with the polaroid to remember this happy moment forever”

Rakhi

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We first saw Rakhi sitting on the steps of the small local temple while her mother combed her long hair. After hearing that we would be taking a picture, she rushed to change out of her old night dress into her best salwaar kameez.

She used to stay in a hostel in Durgapur as her parents felt that it would be better for her education if she didn’t have to commute long distances. She is the same age as me (15), yet she had to live away from her parents.

However she felt sick and returned home. She recently joined a local school. She does some of the house work before setting out in the morning.

Her face lit up when we asked her what her favorite class was. “Bengali,” she said with a proud smile. But like most 15 year olds I know, she hasn’t decided what she wants to do after high school. “I’m not sure yet,” she shrugged.

“Whatever she decides, I will support her. If she wants to go to college, she can. If she wants to get married, she can. I won’t stand in her way.” said Sital Malakar, her father. He is a driver but also a part time broker.

Rakhi has one older sister in class 12 and two younger brothers. The parents don’t know how they will be able to send all of them to college but will try their best.

Deepakshi

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We met Jayant and his daughter Deepakshi in a basti right opposite our old house in Gurgaon. Deepakshi was singing with her friend Sohani when we arrived; they had both just gotten back from school. Deepakshi is in class 1 at Rao Ram Singh Public School. Unlike most people we met, she wants to be a singer when she grows up. She sang us a hindi poem ‘tittli chale jayegi’ (the butterfly will go) and her mother also asked her to sing us ‘Twinkle twinkle little star’. At first she was shy but then her love for music motivated her to go for it. She sang in an adorable voice and is an incredibly cute six year old. Her father, Jayant, works with the Delhi public transportation department and is very proud of her.