When fifteen-year-old Komal’s sister recently got married, her parents became burdened with a large debt because of the loans for the wedding and the dowry.
Komal lives with her family of six people in a space not bigger than a typical bathroom in the US. Every day at dawn she carries water from the pump before making breakfast and lunch. She attends school from 7:30 am to 12:30 pm and then joins India Youth Fund’s Appliance Repair class where she is the only girl.
In her small, overcrowded home, the only light available had been broken for a long time. With her new skills, Komal repaired the fluorescent fixture and brought light into the home at night. She can now study for competitive exams to proceed to the tenth grade and dreams of attending college.
Komal says that the best thing about her job skills course is that she could show her father that girls are as capable as boys. She is proud of the fact that she mastered a skill traditionally reserved for males and showed her parents that she can accomplish anything she desires. She feels that her greatest achievement is changing her father’s views about girls. Girls are not burdens but assets.
Afsar lives in a graveyard. His father tends the graves by day and the five-member family sleeps in a tin shack on the premises with no concrete walls, floor, or roof. Afsar often arrived at school hungry and unkempt.
Filled with shame about where he lived, he had no friends. Soon, Afsar fell into petty theft to help his family make ends meet.
All this changed when he enrolled in the India Youth Fund Cricket Academy. Today Afsar wakes up with a sense of purpose. He has found his calling in the game and it has become more than just a sport to him. The cricket ground was where Afsar had his first real conversation – with his coach. It is where he found himself. Afsar, the petty thief, became Afsar, the athlete.
The sport taught Afsar the value of a healthy lifestyle. Not only did he make friends, he learned discipline. Afsar has just finished the tenth grade and plans to go to college.
Aware that his parents can’t afford it, he is saving up for college with a position as an assistant coach in a local cricket club. His grit and determination have earned him respect and admiration. Afsar stands tall among his peers.