I can imagine the look on their faces when they received their backpacks last May. I bet their excitement turned to a giggle as they hid in each other’s shoulders, as they do today. This was such a big moment; it was something “new.” And that was new for them.
Growing up in Somaniagumpati, life was difficult for Saranya and Magla. Their fathers worked daily wage jobs, which was never a steady income. Sometimes there would be months at a time without work. With three siblings each, there just wasn’t enough to go around. Their parents didn’t have enough even to get them the supplies they needed for school so they couldn’t go. I asked them what their dream was back then; they told me they didn’t dream.
They didn’t dream. For Saranya and Magla there was no motivation for the future. Their poverty seemed to leave them hopeless.
A year later they are different. They are motivated. They are dreaming. They’re achieving.
They’re having victory in life. I can attest to this first hand. I asked Saranya what she likes to do, and she told me she likes to sprint. So we raced, and yeah, you guessed it, they beat me. Whether or not one of the women watching grabbed my hand at the start, I can’t say. But they beat me.
I wonder if that small taste of victory they tasted that warm evening was something they’re becoming more accustom to. Life was once beating these girls down, but now they are rising up. They are standing tall, confident, and motivated. They go to school now, everyday. They both dream of becoming police officers because they want to help their community. They want to make a difference in this world.
All this because a year ago they were given a gift: a backpack with school supplies. They said they had never carried something new like that before. Little did they know the new thing they were carrying was not just the bag, it was their life. Because of that gift they were able to start going to school, and still a year later they are going everyday. They have a new mindset about life. They’re working hard and thinking big. These girls are no longer hopeless, they have been given something new, and it’s something that they will carry with them for the rest of their life.
by Caleb Petersen, March 2018, India