A 17-year-old school dropout in MP has made her parents proud, her neighbours and the upper-caste Yadavs jealous about the zeal for excellence, as she’ll take the flight to Britain to study English at a school near the University of Oxford in January.
Asha has become the first person in her village to acquire a passport
Asha Gond, a resident of Janwaar village of Panna district of Madhya Pradesh has become the first person in Janwaar village to acquire a passport and travel to another country to study. Ulrike Reinhard, a German woman, who helped set up the skatepark in Janwaar, discovered a keen learner in Asha, who used to help her father in the farmland and support her mother with household chores after dropping out of Class 11.
“At Janwaar Castle, we had English sessions by Teach for India fellow Vivek and got the most enthusiastic response from Asha. She came every day to learn, was quick to grasp lessons and was eager to understand fundamentals of English. At the end of the summer, we asked her if she was interested in studying English further. She simply smiled and said yes,” said Reinhard.
‘It took us eight months to convince Asha’s parents’
“It took us eight months to convince Asha’s parents to let her take up this opportunity. Then we got things rolling with a visit to Bhopal for her passport. It was the first time Asha and her mother rode on a train,” she added.
The flights for Asha and volunteer Alisha, who will accompany the tribal girl, will be paid from sponsors abroad. She will stay with teacher Sylwia and her family at Wantage, Oxfordshire for eight weeks and will study at The Butler Centre for Education in Wantage, about 24 kms away from Oxford, famous for teaching basics of English language to children. The family has also secured a local English teacher specialising in supporting students who don’t speak English.
Meanwhile, Asha’s mother Kamala Gond says, “Asha is a very positive girl. I don’t understand much about what she is going to study but she will do it whole-heartedly. She has always been supportive but now she makes me proud.”
When asked about fellow villagers’ reactions, Asha’s father Dharmraj says, “Most people are jealous. But children are happy and excited as they know they can be the next in line.”
“One of our board members has already met the family with whom Asha is to stay in England,” said Reinhard.
“I can’t explain how I feel right now. Wherever I go in the village, people, even the upper-caste Yadavs, want to talk to me. I will make the best of this time and will prepare other children to go abroad for studies,” said a jubilant Asha.
‘The entire cost of Asha’s tour is crowdfunded’
“The entire cost of Asha’s tour is crowdfunded. People have read about Janwaar Castle and about Asha on several news websites, social media, and have come forward to fund her tour. She has also received several proposals for stay in Oxford. But since we have known Sylwia for long, she will stay with her family near Oxford. She will have private lessons in the morning and spend afternoons at the school. Sylwia herself is a teacher,” says Alisha.