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From Speck To Sky, Education Helps You Fly…
(The story of Congress Kanwar)
Congress Kanwar is a 13 year old girl belonging to Sondhiya Rajput
Community. This community is ill-characterized by low female literacy,
child marriage, alcoholism, gambling and poor status of women. Congress
has got three brothers and three sisters. All the brothers are educated
up to Class – VIII and sisters are illiterate and were married by the
age of 10. Congress, before joining Prabhat Shala, was involved in
cattle grazing and household activities.
Congress was very keen in education. She continuously insisted her
parents for her schooling. But her parents were reluctant. They used to
say, “What you will do after education? After all, you will have to do
all these household activities”. Congress used to cry when her father
took her brother to school.
The opening of Prabhat Shala provided her an opportunity to again
pressurize her parents. The teacher of the Prabhat Shala, Reena Bairagi,
organized a series of meetings in her village and interacted with her
parents for her schooling. Her parents presented loss in the work due to
her schooling as excuse. But the little girl committed that she will put
extra efforts to complete the household work before going for study.
Parents unwillingly allowed her.
Congress started getting up as early as 3 a.m. to finish the household
to go to Prabhatshala. The teacher used to explain the importance of
hygiene and insisted no girl should come to Prabhatshala without taking
bath and oiling and combing hair properly. Congress followed the
instructions in spite of her already strenuous schedule.
The fear-free atmosphere of the Prabhatshala helped the girl in not only
gaining basic literary and arithmetic skills but also facilitated
overall development of the personality of Congress. She gained a lot of
self-confidence and turned into an active member of the Meena Manch
constituted. In October, when an excursion of Prabhatshala girls to the
local police station was organized, Congress interacted a lot with the
officials. Many of her misconceptions got cleared. She realized that
police is for their help.
The excursion to the police station was a turning point in the life of
Congress. When she returned she found a couple of unknown faces sitting
in her house. Her father told that they have come to see her for
marriage. Having learnt about the emergency number of police during the
excursion, Congress cautioned that she is only 13 years of old. Marriage
at this age is illegal and if she is forced she will complain to the
police at its emergency number ‘100’ get all them jailed. The unwanted
guests heard her words and did not dare to stay there any more. They
fled and the marriage was averted.
Congress is determined to continue her education till she becomes a
Police officer. She wants to fight for the girls who are not getting
The otherwise unknown girl came into limelight when she was selected for
participation in the launching ceremony of UNICEF’s flagship publication
– Status of world Children report, 2007. The girl, who had rarely
traveled in train, flew in aeroplane from Jaipur to Berlin to make her
unforgettable statement in front of the world media.