By Neha Abraham
Meet Shashi, a 20-year-old ETASHA trainee from Mayur Vihar phase III, Delhi.
Shashi Bala is the eldest of six siblings. Her mother works at a factory fixing zippers on bags and her father is a dhobi. Every day she leaves for her CPCTT (Certificate Program in Computer Teacher Training) classes after cooking for her family. Making 40 chapatis for eight people takes her two hours.
When Shashi joined the course, she had hoped that getting some basic computer knowledge would help her to eventually get a government job which would bring some kind of security to her and her family. After the first Orientation at ETASHA, she realized that the course wasn’t what she expected but she decided to stay since the curriculum sounded good and she wanted to learn in English. She had studied English for only two years in class 8 and 9, after which she didn’t have a chance to continue to learn the language.
Shashi had never given teaching a serious thought as marriage would be on the cards in a couple of years and a job was perhaps not a practical option for her. The need to support her family, however, was a responsibility she couldn’t ignore.
It wasn’t a question of whether she could work, but if she would be allowed to travel to places that weren’t within walking distance of her house.
“Mujhe visits pasand aye, kyunki hum pehle kabhi bahar nahi jate the, aur agar jate bhi the toh kuch observe nahi karte the, bas aise hi kaam karke aa jate the. Yahaan par humne cheezon ko dekha, samjha aur fir presentation bhi diya,” she says about the Social Confidence visits.
(I enjoyed the visits because earlier I didn’t go out and even if I did I never observed things. I would just finish my work for which I was out and go back home. But here I observed things, understood them and then made a presentation on them.)
After one such visit, she reached home at half-past eight in the evening – well after it was dark outside – but she kept her parents informed and so they didn’t worry. They too are gradually getting used to the idea of their daughter going out, travelling on her own and occasionally staying out after seven in the evening.
Shashi learnt about Microsoft Word for the first time when she joined the course, and now she is interning as an assistant teacher at Vidya Welfare Society – a computer training institute. As for her English, although she struggled initially, after five months of classes, she feels that she is no longer intimidated by the language and doesn’t feel embarrassed to ask questions if she doesn’t understand.
These days she wakes up earlier than usual so that she can finish her household chores and make it on time for work, with her mother and sister chipping in for the 40 chapatis for the meal.
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About the author – Neha Abraham is a facilitator at ETASHA Society.