Alpana, 21, lives with her family in a dense slum resettlement in Delhi. She has been working at a food chain for a year after graduating from the Saksham programme. Below, she explains how going to work has changed her life.
“My father runs a small tea stall. That was the main source of income for our family of 6 until I started working. He barely earned €140 a month.
“I grew up seeing my father struggle to make ends meet. When I learnt about the Saksham programme, I found new hope. The offer of free training and the prospect of finding a job was all I needed to push myself ahead.
Building girls’ confidence
“Preparing for the world of work was an eye-opener for me. I learnt so much. I even learnt how to speak to people with confidence. It may sound like an ordinary thing but for many girls doing the training it was an essential life skill to learn after growing up in an environment where girls rarely speak up, let alone deal with strangers, particularly men.
“Soon after I graduated from Saksham, I got a job with a food chain. I became the first girl in my family to be employed. No other female had ever worked before.
“To me, getting a decent job and going to work every day feels like I have become a new person. Previously, I rarely travelled unaccompanied outside the locality where we currently live. Now, I can go anywhere. I feel confident to move about freely and deal with people without any fear or hesitation.
“I love my job and feel great working with other boys and girls. The whole atmosphere is different. I feel like I am equal to everyone.
“I earn almost the same amount as my father does. Our family income has therefore doubled. I can support my parents with household expenses and have my own savings.
“Thankfully my parents saw the value in educating me. I am determined to continue my education and am pursuing a degree through distance learning using my savings.
“Encouraged by my progress, my parents have decided not to persuade me to marry until I am ready for it. Other families in the neighbourhood have also become very supportive. I want to go further in my career.
“When other girls from the community ask me for advice, I tell them there is nothing better than being independent.”