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Passion propels Pune teens to rise above their deprivation, bag international scholarships

What is special about these teenagers is their background: While Josna is the daughter of a single parent and waste-picker, Vandana Londe; Rujuta’s father is an autorickshaw driver in the city, and her mother, a beautician.

pune Updated: Jul 18, 2018 15:15 IST
Prachi Bari and Ananya Barua
Prachi Bari and Ananya Barua
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,passion,education
(From left) Josna Londe (18) and Rutuja Bhoite (17).(HT PHOTO)

Two young students from the city, Josna Londe (18) and Rutuja Bhoite (17) have scaled new heights in sports and academics with their latest achievements.

While Josna will represent India at the 37th World Hakuakai Karate Championship in Japan in August 2018, Rujuta has won a scholarship to study English literature, Global politics and Business management, at United World College (UWC), Thailand.

What is special about these teenagers is their background: While Josna is the daughter of a single parent and waste-picker, Vandana Londe; Rujuta’s father is an autorickshaw driver in the city, and her mother, a beautician.

Josna won gold at the 8th South Asia Hakuakai Karate Championship held at Talkatora Indoor stadium, New Delhi, in April, paving her way to the world championship.

Josna’s mother has been a member of the waste pickers’ association in Pune, Kagad Kach Patra Kashtakari Panchayat, and the solid waste collection and handling cooperative (Swach) for the last 12 years.

A class 10 student at Arayneshwar School, Josna, took up karate as a sport and has been training at the Shotokan Karate Class at her school for the past seven years. She holds a black belt in the sport. Her coach, Sensei Mohit Setiya, has been teaching Josna and a few other children from the Taljai slums on a voluntary basis. He was impressed with her passion for karate.

“From a shy girl to mastering Karate, she has worked wonders to reach and fulfill a dream that I could not imagine,” said Sethiya. He believes that she could represent India and bring glory to the country.

Josna’s mother said that rather than focus on saving money for her daughter’s wedding like most families do, her focus was always to encourage Josna to pursue her passion.

The Class 10 student said she never missed her karate classes even when she had to miss school. “It is tough to have to work, go to school and also stay in practice; but I cannot imagine not doing karate,” Josna said.

Some close friends and NGOs such as Terre des Hommes have extended financial assistance and are helping Josna’s mother raise the Rs 1.5 lakh over and above her savings to fund her trip to Japan.

The other student, Rutuja Bhoite from Avasara Academy, Bavdhan, under the Teach for India (TFI) programme, has won a scholarship to study a combination of English Literature, Global politics and Business management, at UWC, Thailand.

Bhoite found her door to the world through her performance in The Teach for India Broadway musical, Maya. Aspiring to work in the education sector, the opportunity to apply for UWC came from performing for the Maya musical across the country, when the head of the Indian branch proposed the idea to open the scholarship for TFI students as well.

“It’s a huge step for me and my family, considering that I will be in a completely different country altogether, something which no one in my family has ever dreamt of doing, except me,” said Rujuta.

First Published: Jul 18, 2018 15:02 IST