By Tiatemjen Jamir; Edited by Leanna Cappiello
Less than a decade ago, young women from Faridkot were discouraged from pursuing education, let alone chase after a career of their dreams.
Today, due to various interventions by World Vision, many of the young women in India, including 19-year-old Amandeep, are taking hold of their futures.
“I never worked as hard as I did during my two years of training,” says Amandeep. “Some nights I barely slept for three to four hours, between studying for my exams and my duty roster. But in the end, it was all worth it. Now I may even get a chance to work abroad,” she adds.
Amandeep completed her Health Worker training, and now works as a nurse in an orthopedic clinic in town. Her two sisters are also high-achievers: her youngest sister, Gurpreet, is in Grade 11, and Charanjeet, her other sister, is completing her Bachelors of Education. Charanjeet says that being part of the scheduled caste* allows her to be among the select few who are chosen to have their educations paid for by the Indian government.
Amandeep attributes her biggest influence to her parents.
The society here is strongly patriarchal and women, until very recently, were confined to their homes and barely ventured out of their villages.
Sukhjeet, Amandeep’s mother, says, “When I was young, the girls from the community were never allowed to leave. Partly because it wasn’t considered safe, but more so because it was frowned upon by our elders and their conservative values. We had to stay at home and help with household chores.”
Education plays a fundamental role in the lives of Amandeep and her siblings. A truth that they all share. “I would not be where I am today had I not gone to school. It gave me knowledge and also made me aware of all the possibilities and opportunities that were available to me. I know my younger siblings also feel the same,” says Amandeep.
“None of this would have been possible without World Vision. Apart from my course fees, they also raised awareness on gender and equality which helped to change the views of the community and become more open minded,” Amandeep says. “We can now face life with dignity and confidence.”
*scheduled caste: the official term given in India to the lowest caste (class system), considered ‘untouchable’ in orthodox Hindu scriptures and practice, officially regarded as socially disadvantaged.