19- year-old Karishma was tired and angry. My mother died when I was 11 years old. I was the eldest and so I had to handle everything,” she explains. Her father, a tailor in a local factory, taught her to cook after she complained about her aunts nitpicking about her cleaning and cooking. It was tough for her because she had to grow up quickly, with the little support her father could give her. Perhaps this is why she is so driven. Perhaps this is also what caused her initial outbursts in computer class, English class and any class which required group work.
Karishma decided to join the CODE programme because she wanted to start to get a job to be able to finance her studies. A few weeks earlier she had also begun working as a primary school teacher. But handling the household chores, a job and a training programme became too hectic for her.
She began losing her temper in class and slapping the little first and second standard students she was teaching. She realized this was wrong, and she wanted to stop. “I spoke to Ma’am during the individual counseling classes, Ma’am asked me about my routine and told me that I wasn’t eating and getting sleeping enough. I also realized that I needed to manage my time better,” she says explaining her daily routine which begins at 4:00 am and ends at 12:30 am.
To add to her problems, some people in her community spread rumours that she was actually gallivanting with a boy and not working at a school. “Maybe they are jealous of me. I don’t know why they talk like this,” she says while speaking of how the positive learning environment at the centre is a relief for her. “It’s hurtful when you try, and people only criticize and comment. My aunts and neighbours do it all the time. But here, I can share very personal things and people always listen. No one laughs or scolds me. If I am not doing something correctly, I am given feedback and advice in a very gentle and polite way,” she says.
The session on recognizing strengths has made her realize that handling her frustrations at home has made her resilient and she has cultivated qualities that are valued in the workplace. “I learnt that I am adjusting, responsible and resourceful. I never thought these things mattered,” she says.
Karishma speaks about her life in terms of little victories or milestones. The first was when she learnt how to make perfect rotis. Another was when she convinced her father that she didn’t have to get married in class X. Her latest was when she got good marks in her twelfth standard exams. “My father was just as excited as me and so he agreed to let me do a BA,” she says triumphantly pumping her fists as she tells that story. She has been calculating – in her village in Bihar it takes about three years for parents to approve of a boy and so he has just enough time to make something of herself.
The session on setting a Vision and Goals for life has helped her figure out her next few steps. “No one had ever asked me about what I want to do in life. Never. I just did what was required. But when I think about it, I am quite a good teacher and I like children. So I want to start working in a better paying job to save money to set up a small playschool of my own,” she says.
Her trainer Riddhi mentions that Karishma is perseverant and even though she had never switched on a computer before joining the course, she is a quick learner and even comes early to the centre to practice every day. “She just needs to work her typing skills.”
Overall, Karishma feels the course has given her a sense of positivity and direction. In addition to improving her skills, she has also started allowing her brothers to do their share of the chores at home, something she was reluctant to do earlier. While she is determined to work hard and improve her skills, she is also learning to relax and unwind on occasion.