A film based on the real struggle of Laxmi and Kiran of Lucknow’s Prerna School to be featured in Obama Foundation Summit

Laxmi, the eldest of five siblings, was forced to put her education on hold, when her mother became very ill. Her mother passed away when she (Laxmi) was only 13 years old. From then on, Laxmi had to work as a cleaner to help support her family as her father, an alcoholic, was unable to earn for them

lucknow Updated: Nov 14, 2018 07:39 IST
Anupam Srivastava
Anupam Srivastava
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Prerna Girls' School Lucknow,Obama foundation summit,Obama summit in Chicago
Laxmi and Kiran of Prerna Girls’ School Lucknow who will address the Obama Foundation Summit 2018 in Chicago(HT Photo)

Former US President Barack Obama’s foundation has invited an alumnus and a student of the Lucknow-based Prerna Girls’ School to address the Obama Foundation Summit 2018 in Chicago where they will talk about how they battled adversity to educate themselves and give their families a shot at a better life.

Apart from the former US President, former US First Lady Michelle Obama will be present at the Obama Foundation Summit 2018 where a film based on the struggles of the Prerna duo, Laxmi Nishad and Kiran Sahu, will be screened. The summit is scheduled on November 18 and 19.

Laxmi is an alumnus of the Prerna Girls School run by the Study Hall Educational Foundation while Kiran studies in class 10 at the same school.

“Kiran Sahu, who is currently a student of Prerna Girls’ School, has played the role of Laxmi in the film. She will also accompany Laxmi to the summit. Interestingly, the stories of Laxmi and Kiran are quite similar. That’s why Kiran was also called by Obama,” said Rakhi Panjwani, the principal of Prerna School.

Panjwani also said, “Laxmi’s story will be an integral part of the summit. The Obama Foundation brought in film- makers from the USA and South Africa to make the film which will be released during the summit in Chicago.”

Laxmi, the eldest of five siblings, was forced to put her education on hold, when her mother became very ill. Her mother passed away when she (Laxmi) was only 13 years old. From then on, Laxmi had to work as a cleaner to help support her family as her father, an alcoholic, was unable to earn for them.

But her life took a positive turn when she enrolled herself in the Prerna Girls’ School.

“I didn’t want a life like my mother’s,” says Laxmi, when asked why she was determined to get an education at the age of just 13 years.

“Prerna gave me a voice and taught me to value myself,” she adds.

“I have completed my post-graduate degree and I have been working as a sales manager at a call centre where the starting salary is Rs 25,000, which is enough for the family’s food, clothing and education expenses,” she says.

Laxmi has been able to improve the condition of the dilapidated two-room house she has lived in with her family for the past 15 years. She has built a bathroom with plumbing and bought a new gas stove.

“I also purchased a scooter to reach my workplace and have just bought a 1,000 square feet plot of land on which I dream of building a house one day,” says Laxmi.

“My life is very different now,” Laxmi says on an emotional note. She adds that she is financially independent, able to look after her siblings and ensure they have a better future, and that she will now have a choice in who she marries and when she does so.

“While my father sold my books to buy alcohol, I see how my sisters’ life is now so different from mine. They have all got an education. I see Kiran, who has similar struggles, but has perhaps more aspirations and strength. I hope that my story will give strength to girls around the world,” says Laxmi.

Kiran’s life too is full of struggle. She says she is one among six sisters and two brothers. Her family, which belongs to Chhattisgarh, migrated to Lucknow in search of work. Her father was a daily-wage labourer before he fell to his death from an under-construction building under suspicious circumstances. She had to drop out of school three times before she finally managed to continue her education. Now, she is studying in class 10 at the Prerna Girls School. Two of her younger sisters are in class 5 and 6 here.

She says, “I still work in five homes to support my mother and five sisters. I have a brother who cannot stand to see me go to school. He burnt my books and uniform when I was 13, and pulled me out of school five times. But my mother was always with me, supporting me. Today, I can proudly say that, much like Laxmi didi, I am the most educated person in my family.”

First Published: Nov 14, 2018 07:39 IST