My Story: Alisha Shiledar (KLECET, Belgaum)

Posted on Monday, August 26, 2013 by LEAD

Alisha Shiledar (KLECET, Belgaum)

My LEAD journey began with one little girl named Fatima.  Fatima, around 8 years old, desperately wanted to go to school. Her family being poor, though, Fatima had to help her mother every day, who worked as a maid.  I would see Fatima every day, and seriously worried about the girl’s condition.  I talked to her and made her my friend.  Fatima was innocent, but I could see her innocence diminishing.  I soon realized that Fatima was not alone, and that there were many other girls in Fatima’s same situation, or worse.  
Fatima’s story inspired my first LEAD project.  I went to the government school near Fatima’s home and learned that most of the children were only attending school two weeks every month, at the most.  I decided to take action.  At first I approached the parents of the children and tried to explain to them the importance of education, but I was greeted with opposition.   Many of the parents shouted at me and even slammed the doors in my face.  But I didn’t give up.  I couldn’t give up. I then went to the school.  On Saturdays and Sundays for three months, I volunteered at the school and devised fun ways to teach the children the basic skills that they were lacking, which also helped generate an interest for school within the children. 
But ultimately, I knew that helping the children wasn’t enough.  I realized that the root of the problem lay with the parents, and that I would have to convince the parents to let their children come to school.  I decided to focus on the mothers, and for one month I taught them basic literacy skills.  
Because of my project, 50 children, including Fatima, are attending school regularly. The success of this project really improved my confidence.  When it happened, I felt so good and happy.  I had no idea my project would be so successful.  50 children going back to school is a big thing.
Feeling totally motivated and energized, I completed another project that aimed to improve the condition of government school children.  In my second project, I organized acting, painting, model making, and singing competitions to showcase children’s talents in two government schools. The children’s artistic productions were published in local newspapers.  
I can honestly say that LEAD provoked my inner heart and inspired social awareness within me.  Above all, though, LEAD challenged me to become an active member of society. I have started speaking up about issues, which I never used to.  I used to hesitate.  But now, whenever I feel something is wrong, I speak up.  LEAD has changed me.    

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