A story of courage and passion: Sanjana's undying spirit to pursue her dreams
Sanjana Kumari, Breakthrough’s Team Change Leader (TCL) from Hazaribagh, is one amongst 6 girls selected from Jharkhand to participate in the Republic Day parade in 2023 in the National Capital
Sanjana Kumari, Breakthrough’s Team Change Leader (TCL) from Hazaribagh, is one amongst 6 girls selected from Jharkhand to participate in the Republic Day parade in 2023 in the National Capital.
Sanjana indomitably braved the community norms that threatened her passion of dancing. But she understood the need to speak up against the issues she was facing and the restrictions imposed on her by her family and community. She comes from a place where opportunities are only seen and heard of in dreams and a few venture out to achieve their aspirations. Her will power is commendable to break the ‘society set – barriers’ to live a life which is not caged.
Breakthrough’s programmes such as Team Change Leader (TCL) prepares Sanjana and many others like her to face the world with confidence. TCL is a programme that is specially designed to catalyse and facilitate youth leadership for positive social change, particularly in rural communities. Breakthrough has been working at the grassroots level to create a cultural shift and make discrimination and violence against girls and women unacceptable.
Sanjana Kumari, aged 19, lives in Banha village of Navada Gram Panchayat of Katkamdag block of Hazaribagh. As a child, she always aspired to do something out of the box, ‘something big’. She says, “My dream is to be a dancer but my family would stop and put restrictions as they did not approve of this aspiration”. She added that she wanted to live a life free of restrictions. Her grandfather has helped her throughout her journey and has been extremely supportive of her dreams. But this is a rarity in many parts of the country where the everyday struggles of women and girls often fail to get attention.
But Breakthrough’s focused intervention through the TCL programme have helped her stand for her own self. Sanjana has participated in many events that includes dance performances and music. Her aunt had advised her to take part in the auditions that were held in her college (Saint Columbus College) so that she could further be a part of the parade. She has given many auditions, interviews and has been an active part of many camps and trainings and even got shortlisted for running, dance as well as for the parade. She has always admired events celebrating India and wanted to be a part of one ever since. With incoming opportunities, she met many officials in Delhi during her camp training where she was selected to participate in the Republic Day Parade (The largest and the most important Parades marking the Republic Day celebration in India). In recent times, she has met many leaders like Anurag Thakur and Vice President of India.
Sanjana’s Breakout moment
She volunteered to join as youth group member as she wanted to contribute to the work that Breakthrough does for women’s rights and gender-related issues. She could personally connect with the issues as her own life seemed to be affected by some of these that women and girls in general are often subject to. After Sanjana became a member of Breakthrough’s TCL programme, she actively participated in all activities and training and was subsequently was selected as the Team Change Leader. Thereafter, she decided to speak up and negotiate on her ambition with her family. She realized that unless she took a stand she would not be able to get family support.
The learnings helped her reshape her thinking and come to a decision to ‘speak up’. Gradually she was able to convince them that all professions/jobs deserve to be treated with dignity. When asked about her experience and learnings with Breakthrough team, she replied – ‘I love how BT (Breakthrough) encourages friendly interactions, they have helped me strengthen my confidence and made me realise that my voice has a value irrespective of my gender. This has enhanced my confidence and I feel I have conquered a lot because of it.’
Recently she started working for Khortha Music Album-this is a musical video album in local dialect which is popular on YouTube. She is currently involved in shooting for her upcoming video.
Sanjana stands as a solid example of gender equality – with equal opportunity and decision making. She inspires others to learn and overcome the issues relating to gender disparity and gender-based violence. Breakthrough is proud to work with young people like Sanjana who are part of a generation of young people who wish to strive no matter what the circumstances are.
Sanjana concludes highlighting that “all girls who sit in silence thinking and assuming that boys are given more opportunities, they have a certain win at any given sports and assume that they excel in all fields, please get rid of that notion. Any girl is as powerful and talented as a boy. Hard work pays off and we should collectively believe in that and not fixate our minds on the gender parity because it really does start from you”. She adds before signing off, ‘Never let yourself be defeated.’
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