This is Jyoti’s story. Jyoti lives in Ghari Kajoor village, in Karnal, Haryana. In her village, education is rarely a top priority and a large majority of the young women drop out of the school to get married early and start work.
But Jyoti refused to let this stop her. The school in her village only went up to class 5, after which she started to go to another village, 3-4 km away, to attend the school there. After finishing her 10th, Jyoti persisted in her education and, aided by her family, she went to school in another village to finish her class 11-12th, becoming one of the first girls from the village to do so!
But Jyoti’s story doesn’t end there. She had a dream that every girl from her village would one day be able to go to college.
It started with her helping some girls from her village go to tuition. She immediately faced resistance, when boys from her village showed up to harass them and try to stop her but she and the girls persevered and eventually succeeded in continuing the classes! But the COVID struck and the tuition classes were paused.
At this point, Jyoti decided to find another way to help the girls from her village. She joined up with Breakthrough and hearing about two girls from her village who wanted to go to college, decided to take up their cause. One of the girls’ families resisted, especially her grandfather, who insisted that if his granddaughter started going to the city to attend college, she would destroy their honour. They even started talking about getting her married!
Jyoti, along with the girl, approached the sarpanch (head of village council) of the village who then had a word with the family. And now, both the girls have been able to submit their college fees and will begin to attend college soon!
Empowered by this, Jyoti went on to organise a youth meeting in her village, along with her many young girls stepped forward to talk about their issues to the sarpanch (head of village council). They particularly brought up the issue of young girls being forced to drop out of school to get married early (head of village council). The sarpanch was astonished with this, because in the five years he had been there, this was the first time young women in the village had stepped forward to speak like this.
In listening to them, he realised his own missed opportunities and responsibilities and agreed to support them in their dream!
With empowered young people, change is possible.