By Vijetha Bandi, VOICE Field Coordinator
It was a rainy morning when I started for the schools. This worried me a bit. I kept on thinking that if it continued raining, I may not be able to visit all the schools I wanted to that day. But like most rains in India during monsoon season, it never last longs. So, with little traffic and a cool breeze, we drove to the schools to talk to VOICE’s stakeholders. I could tell right when we entered the classrooms that all the girls were very curious and excited about us being in their schools.
I started talking to the girls individually about the camp and their experience. Once I got them going, it was hard for them to stop. They had so much to say about camp—how they enjoyed the activities and lessons, how much they had improved in English and confidence, etc. One girl even asked me why we don’t conduct a yearlong camp (little does she know that we are piloting the yearlong program in September). It was great hearing these girls’ questions and comments; it’s as though they never had stage fright or any hesitations when it came to speaking.
It is sad, however, to think that many of these bright, young girls will not have the opportunity to obtain a higher secondary education. I was actually surprised to learn that many parents don’t really think it necessary for girls to have much education. I had always thought that this type of parent was a parent of the past, so I was shocked when I learned that more often than not, parents in India do not support their daughters’ decision to receive higher education. It’s weird to think that as an Indian, I did not know this about my country. I guess it was because my parents have always given me so much freedom to do what I want and make my own decisions. I have never felt that my parents treated me differently from my brothers. My brothers and I went to the same schools, and my parents were and still are very supportive of all of us.
Education is a very important aspect in one’s life, especially in the lives of girls, because they are the ones who will be taking care of their families in the future. I think when you study and work, you get to know the world better. When educated, you are able to look at things in different ways and make informed decisions. It is not an obligation for all those who have college degrees to work, but by getting an education, one ultimately learns what one likes and what one wants for her life. I thank God for giving me such great parents.