Impact Stories 27th July, 2023

The Fight To Go To School: Furkan and Anam’s Story.

When we pulled into Furkan’s village Pathargarh (located in Panipat, Haryana), Furkan was waiting for us at the end of the lane leading to his house. I had seen him once before from afar, talking passionately about letting every girl go to school in his village, in an event organised by Breakthrough India. Even then I had been impressed by his articulate points and his ability to put forward everything he believed in.

Tall and with an air of agreeable hospitality, he led us to his home in Pathargarh where we met his family and most importantly, his sister Anam. In something of a contrast, Anam is a quieter figure compared to her more talkative and self-possessed brother. But what is also visible is the firm friendship between the siblings, and it’s clear that Furkan is in the front of the line when it comes to fighting for his sister’s rights. And in this case, it is the right to go to school.

Before 2019, only one girl had finished her higher education in Pathargarh. And today, more than 15 girls are now on track to do the same. What’s at the root of this change? Speaking to Pardeep, the Breakthrough Community Developer who works in Pathargarh, it’s the voices of young people like Furkan leading the charge forward!

But it’s not been an easy journey.

Furkan’s sister, Anam, was forced to drop out of school early while Furkan continued to go. At their school, they participated in the sessions organised by the Breakthrough team and Furkan took the lessons of gender parity to heart. So much so that he and his cousin went home directly and started talks with their family about letting his sister complete school.

And not just their family – Furkan started to approach other families in the area to ensure that they also sent their daughters to school.

But that was easier said than done. “They would say,” Furkan remarked ruefully, “that ‘our girls will only go if other girls go!’”

But despite the disagreements and the barriers at every step, Furkan and other young people in the village persisted. And eventually, they won through with more girls in the village going to school than ever, with his own sister as one of them.

“We’re planning on it,” he said, smiling at his shy sister. “We’re hoping that she can pursue higher education outside.”

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From a young age, Furkan has been the kind of person who is always at odds with society’s gaze. With a strong interest in theatre, he pursued his interest in acting even when others in the village mocked him for it. He attended a natak workshop – a play workshop – organised by the Breakthrough team in his school and got his first role that way.

The very first time he performed, he says, he was nervous and almost on the verge of shaking and giving up. But his director told him to stick it through and he recalls the after-performance euphoria as one of the best feelings he’s ever had. And recently, his theatre troupe even topped the National Theatre Festival in Bangalore!

The stories of Furkan and Anam are an inspiration to us all, and we at Breakthrough are proud to work with and empower young people like them.

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Such stories are only possible with your assistance and support. Help us reach and empower more young people today. Support Breakthrough now.

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