Aarti, 14, and her sister Bharti, 13, used to work in a shop, where they made nests. Unlike a few other children in the slums of Gurgaon Sector 12, where they lived, the two sisters had been to school till about the age of six.
“We had to discontinue their education as we weren’t able to earn enough money in Gurgaon. We decided to shift to a village near Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh,” said their mother Radha, who has been living in the slums with her family for the last 20 years.
The family - two daughters, a homemaker mother and a cobbler father - had moved out of Gurgaon for a brief six months in search for a better life, which led to the discontinuation of their studies.
“After returning, we never thought we would be able to study. We didn’t even hope to do so. So, we started helping out in the shop,” said Aarti, who is now enrolled in Class 6 of a government school in Sector 14 with her younger sister Bharti.
Like in most cases, getting the duo admitted in a school was not easy. The volunteers of Hindustan Times’ You Read They Learn initiative had to make several trips to the school to get the girls admitted.
“The school authorities said Aarti had crossed the age for admission into primary section. But she didn’t know much to be admitted into the secondary school. Finally, they told us shift her to middle school in Class 6, but she is studying the Class 4 syllabus,” said Shivinder Narwal, student of YMCA Faridabad and YRTL volunteer.
The other reason why the school created a fuss on admitting the two sisters was that they had studied in the same school earlier. But one fine day they abruptly stopped attending the classes and the school though they would do it again. “But we promised them that no such thing would happen,” recalled Narwal.
“I enjoy studying, but I never thought it would be possible to study again. But it is because of my sister and Shivinder bhaiyya, I will be able to study once again,” said Aarti.