This is the story of a rural girl, who believes in woman empowerment. This is the story of Prajakta Babde; a 15-year young soul, living in a small village near Pune, Maharashtra, India called Amboli. Amboli is a remote, underprivileged town with minimal educational infrastructure, basic learning facilities and meagre support from state facilities for education.
Prajakta is raised in a community where education is not her prescribed future; a sad reality of many girls being raised in remote villages of a developing nations like India. Although education is one’s fundamental right, Prajakta and other girls, in particular, are told to remain confined to household chores from an early age. Despite these circumstances, Prajakta remains a dreamer.
“I have a lot of things to prove to myself”. Prajakta dreams to become an IPS officer – a respectable, government official who serves for the betterment of society and culture. Going against societal norms, Prajakta’s parents are encouraging and supportive of her dream, and provide her with the
courage to pursue them. Prajakta is willing to work relentlessly through the challenging process of passing the Indian Civil Service Examinations and the UPSC.
But dreams and aspirations alone cannot lead to fulfilment. Prajakta’s limited resources have acted as a barrier for her to reach the goals she set out for herself. Her school lacked access to textbooks and learning materials, technology and the internet, and many other basic tools required. Her dreams were expensive to the family, and with limited resources, hope began to wear thin.
Prajakta’s journey isn’t over yet, but the beginning of it is much like many others in rural villages,where giving up on dreams becomes the reality due to excruciating and challenging circumstances.
While students recognize the importance of education, their journey is obstructed mid-way due to the lack of financial resources, inadequate support of school resources, unavailability of books and basic educational facilities, among many other constraints. To support and empower these children, Touch A Life [TAL] Foundation was founded.
Established in 2018, with the small initiative called “Books for Change”, TAL provided syllabus-based textbooks to Grade 9 and 10 students in Maharashtra’s most destitute and underprivileged students.
Yet, along this journey, TAL has extended its hands to providing computer labs, science labs, school infrastructure, teacher training, etc. to uplift their communities. TAL partners with schools that are small-sized, much like Prajakta’s, with 20-100 students in total – where, although teacher wages are paid by the government, all student resources are paid for by themselves.
This resolution has built a strong solution for Prajakta. And within her dreams and aspirations, Prajakta has now found opportunities, a multitude of resources to obtain the right training and mentorship, and a clearer path. TAL has strived to provide Prajakta with greater support as she jumps over the hurdles in her journey to becoming an IPS officer and turning her dreams into reality.
TAL is highlighting students from partnered schools every month, to tell the stories that need to be heard. So that we can better understand how to support and stand tall with our future generations as they strive to create a better world ahead.
Prajakta is a special dreamer, all she needed was the support to open her wings. And her journey has only just begun.
– By Vishwa Vaniawala