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From slums to films: How a teacher’s kindness changed the life of this Mumbai girl

A Facebook post in the Humans of Bombay page on a young woman who grew up in a Mumbai slum and is now a teacher, thanks to a woman who helped her stand on her own two feet, will leave you inspired.

mumbai Updated: Jul 20, 2017 20:59 IST
Humans of Bombay,Xavier's,Akanksha
(Source: Human of Bombay Facebook page)

She won’t reveal the identity but she has a story to tell: how she grew up in a Mumbai slum and is now a teacher, thanks to a woman who helped her stand on her own two feet.

A Facebook post in the Humans of Bombay page is going viral . It has already garnered close to 10k likes and over 500 shares in just two days.

The post is about a young girl from the chawls of Mumbai who got an offer from Xavier’s by dint of her mentor’s unrelenting support and motivation.

“My family home was a room made of sheets of tin and plastic on the main road. Our slum used to ‘steal’ electricity from the BMC lines” reads the post by the young Bombay girl.

The account also offers a glimpse into the state of municipal schools in the country. The teachers in the municipal school she went to would treat the students “like servants. They used to make us wash their tiffins, come to class to just sleep and my Math teacher would smoke in class, in front of all of us” reads the post.

Her parents however didn’t want their child to suffer their fate. “They wanted us to study and make something of ourselves. So when I was 4 I joined Akanksha, an after school supplementary programme.”

She didn’t know then that her life is going to change forever. Her mentor at Akanksha who she lovingly called ‘Anjali didi’ felt studying at the municipal school was a waste of the kids’ potential and talents.

So in the ninth standard, ‘Anjali didi’ took it upon herself to provide for nine students’ education in a private school.

However, coping with the level of education of a private school proved to be difficult for her. “I didn’t know anything — I didn’t even know that different teachers teach different subjects — so I failed my ninth grade twice,” reads the Facebook post on the Humans of Bombay page.

She was shattered, not so much by the failure but the thought that she’d let Anjali didi down. She even considered quitting everything and going back to the life she had worked so hard to get out of.

“But Anjali didi didn’t take no for an answer. She pushed me to work harder…when there was no electricity at home, she would stay back at the centre with me and help me study,” writes the young woman in the post.

After her tenth exam, she got an offer from Xavier’s Mumbai. Her dream of becoming a filmmaker didn’t seem elusive anymore.

But as fate would have it, she was forced to give up everything because of her family’s financial problems. “My mother had borrowed a lot of money and it hurt me when people humiliated her… That is when I considered stopping college and starting to work full-time.”

After much persuasion, Anjali didi convinced her to not quit studying. “I listened to her — my entire life at college was either about studying or working. I had multiple part time jobs — from being a ticket collector at theatres to working in call centres, I took up any job I was offered.”

She now works full-time with an education portal, and teaches girls from her community on Sundays... “and it’s so gratifying to give back. My dream of travelling the world with my mother is still alive, but a far bigger dream… which I strive to achieve every single day is being an ‘Anjali Didi’ in someone’s life.”

First Published: Jul 20, 2017 20:59 IST