Swarti recently graduated from Bloom Mercy School, and is now studying at our STEM-based pre-university school. But, it wasn’t an easy or assumed path for Swarti.
Swarti’s family are migrant workers from a remote village area. They do not own any land of their own and move from place to place looking for steady work. They struggle financially to get by on daily wages.
Swarti is the oldest of five daughters. Typically, in this community, girls are viewed as financial burdens. They are usually married young because of the prevalent dowry system. Dowry is the girl’s inheritance that she brings into the marriage. It is sometimes protection from divorce or abuse. But within these impoverished communities, there is very little protection. Once a girl leaves and goes to live with the in-laws, her parents can only hope that they care for her well. The younger girls require less dowry, so families are incentivized to marry their daughters young. Often they marry other migrant workers and the cycle of poverty continues.
Swarti’s extended family and community pressured her parents to get their daughters married as soon as possible. But Swarti’s parents did not want to do that. They wanted a different life for their daughters so they migrated to the city for better opportunities.
Swarti’s parents are not educated but work hard to make ends meet. Her father works in the quarries under harsh conditions to earn about $3 a day. He works in the heat without proper equipment, often carrying heavy rocks with his bare hands.
Swarti’s father always wanted to provide for his family well, but even with all his hard work, they often go to bed hungry.
This father knew he had to put the girls into a good school so they could have the chance at a better life. He also knew that if he was struggling to put food on the table, it would be even harder to pay for an education. Government schools are often free or have minimal charges but they aren’t able to maintain minimum standards of literacy and math. They also are not able to retain good quality teachers, especially those that care.
Even a low-cost school in India would cost about 20,000 rupees a year which is about $262 per child. This doesn’t take into account uniforms and school supplies. Swarti’s father makes $3 a day which is about $1000 a year if he has steady work. His wage barely covers all the expenses for the entire family for food, housing, and clothing, with nothing left over for emergencies or education. During the last two years, day laborers, like Swarti’s father, could not work consistently, so many took on more debt.
Principal Gerard saw this family’s situation and accepted the girls into Bloom Mercy School, tuition-free. This was a huge turning point for the entire family.
Swarti is bright and hard-working. This first-generation learner wants to become a doctor and give back to her family and community. She is a great role model for her sisters. Swarti’s family is so proud of her.