With the birth of my daughter at age 42, I am reinventing myself and the social sector has beckoned. I have 25 years of work experience, with which I wanted to help those who help others. One assignment connected me to Kolkata and Ek Tara that operates in the city’s big slum areas of Topsia and Tiljala. The NGO works to educate, train, and empower women and girls from the neighbouring underserved communities. Since its start in 2011 with 20 women, Ek Tara is now impacting more than 1300 girls and women.
I met and interacted, via the virtual platform, with some of Ek Tara’s gutsy girls and women. Despite life’s injustices and suffering domestic abuse, they have bounced back and serve as a beacon of hope for many. Reshmi Jahangir is one such young woman, a 32-year-old single mother. Confident and composed, Reshmi speaks lucidly about the scars that she survived from an unhappy marriage and domestic violence. For her now, each pitfall is a learning lesson and she prefers to talk proudly about her lovely nine-year-old daughter, Zamne Ezaz who is determined to be something in life. Participating in the Adult Literacy Project and working with Ek Tara have enabled Reshmi to understand functional English, and bravely attempt to speak the language. “Today my child studies in one of the best schools in the city, and nothing gives me more pleasure than helping her with her home-work and projects. I learn with her. In fact, when I look back, I have no regrets. I left a disturbed marriage, and took charge of my life. It was no walk in the clouds, but it was also not something that, I now realize, I couldn’t do.” Reshmi works at the NGO as a support staff. As she shows her one room home, with all the necessary amenities for a comfortable life, the pride in her voice is unmistakable. That’s not all that she has achieved, but something that surpasses all else — Astitva or an identity.
As I complete a call with Reshmi, I can’t help but notice the determination in her eyes, and it brings to mind a famous quote: “There is no force more powerful than a woman determined to rise.” How true, how very true! Way to go, Ek Tara!
Sarah Berry hails from a multicultural background, and is currently applying her 25 years of diverse professional experience with NGOs and start-ups in the domain of outreach. She serves Ek Tara in the capacity of a consultant – communication strategies and soft skills.
Courtesy : Sarah Berry