Bismilla, at age 19, was brought up in a traditional household in Sankalit Nagar, H Ward, consisting of her father whom is a driver, a housewife mother, a married sister, and a brother who is a carpenter. Before joining with Saath, she was unable to leave her household by herself. She was shy, and was unable to communicate with other people. She was able to study up to her 10th standard, but unable to advance any further in education because she was unable to leave the house. Fortunately, about one year ago she came in contact with another young girl, whom was a part of the Youth Group, coming door-to-door telling people about the program, and asked Bismilla to join. She had to decline because she knew her parents would disapprove. After the encounter however, the youth coordinator came and sat down with Bismilla’s parents, and told them of the advantage the Youth Program can bring, including developing personal skills and interacting with a network of local youth that experience the same everyday difficulties as do you. Hesitantly, they allowed her to go to one meeting.
She was very interested at the first meeting, and was able to convince her parents to allow her to attend more, and become actively involved in its programs including the 3 month long Cleanliness Campaign. She shared that one day the youth group had a picnic at Science City, and this became the first time she left her home, unescorted by her parents.
Later she joined the UMEED program, in order to train in customer relations and get a job. She would have never been allowed to work before, but after the youth coordinator sat down with her parents, they were willing to let this happen. Currently she works with India Infoline, earning Rs. 6000 monthly. Initially her father said no to it, because it was far away. Yet she stayed firm on her desires, with a new found confidence uncovered by the youth program, and persuaded her father to allow her. With such a good occupation, I found it hard to believe that just one year ago, she had no concept of a job, and didn’t even know what her father did for a living. It was only after her first meeting at the youth group, that her and her mother went to her father’s job, and asked questions and learned about what he actually did.
When asked about the transformation she experience as apart of the youth group, Bismilla said “before I was nothing,” and now she is a confident, self empowered young woman. Bismilla encourages other people to join the group, saying that it helps develop a better person out of you, and moreover develop a better community and society through individual growth.
This story was documented by Sagar Patel, 16 (US) who volunteered at Saath for a month. He visited the field and met with youth from the Azaad Youth Groups.