Ramanjit Kaur (21) takes the bus to Faridkot at around 9 am. It takes her half an hour to reach the city. She carries a rucksack with her lunch, which her mom had packed. Her mother and her niece see her off from the gate.
Ramanjit is a trained nurse. She is in pre and post-operative care at the BJTC Bikram Joint and Trauma Centre, Faridkot. They specialise in orthopaedics. She enjoys assisting in the operation theatre because she gets to learn the most there. The doctors here are full of praise for her aptitude and willingness to learn.
Her father Surjit (57), and mother, Kuldeep (55), believe in the power of education. They are illiterate, and they have faced difficulties first-hand. Being uneducated, they had to take up the toughest and lowest paying jobs. They work as daily wage labourers. They wanted their children and grandchildren to get the best education. “I do hard manual work to educate my children,” says Surjit.
Ramanjit always wore a smile on her face and one wouldn’t believe what she and her family had gone through. A tragedy had struck the family a few years back. Surjit and Kuldeep were blessed with five children, but two sons passed away in a short period leaving the family broken. The family forged a strong bond amid the loss. The eldest son was married when he passed away, survived by his wife and two children. “I try to give the best education for all my children and grandchildren,” says Surjit.
Ramanjit’s brother Haldirpreet (28) works as an auto mechanic and owns a repair shop. “He completed 10+2, but where do you get a good job here? He works to get by,” rues Surjit. At Gone Wala, farming or labour jobs are the most common profession. Young people dream of moving to Canada. It provides an escape from poverty.
Ramanjit has big dreams, but it has not always been that way. As a child, she wanted to be a teacher. That was the wildest and yet the most achievable dream. At Gole Wala village, there are very few women figures she can look up to.
She is part of World Vision India’s adolescent girl group, and her mother is a part of the self-help group. At one of the meetings, Ramanjit learned about an opportunity for a sponsored nursing course. She had just completed 10+2 at that time. “I scored 68% in 10+2. My subjects were maths and economics,” says Ramanjit.
World Vision India sponsored her enrolment and hostel fees for an ANM (Auxiliary Nursing Midwife) course at Francis Newton Mission Hospital in Firozpur, Punjab. This was her first time away from the family. Ramanjit had an impressive academic record, and it was no surprise that she did really well at her new college. “The teachers were really good to us. I really enjoyed it. I came first in the class,” Ramanjit says. She passed out in 2021.
The dream doesn’t end there for this ambitious girl from the village. Ramanjit enrolled in an online GNM course recently at Guru Gobind Singh College of Nursing, Barnala. “For the first year, the fee is Rs.50, 000. I’m paying for my education,” Ramanjit tells us.
Ramanjit is grateful to her parents, World Vision India, and sponsors. She believed they had conspired to achieve what she couldn’t even imagine. “My parents are illiterate, but they have been very supportive. Girls in my community are forced to get married at 15-16, but my parents fully supported my studies. They didn’t discriminate against me and stopped me from getting an education because of my gender. And World Vision gave me the support to fulfill my dreams,” Ramanjit says.
She believes she would have dropped out after 10+2 had it not been for the support she received from World Vision India. She has no plan of marrying in the near future. “I want to complete my studies. I like studies,” Ramanjit says with a smile.
Under the project Adolescent Girls as Agents of Change, World Vision India has reached 1403 adolescent girls in 23 villages with capacity-building activities to build their cognitive, social, and economic capital. There are 63 adolescent girls’ groups in the target communities. From 2016-2019, 150 girls were assisted with higher and professional courses for a better future. Twenty girls sponsored under this project have completed the Auxiliary Nursing Midwifery (ANM) course.
Ramanjit’s parents are very proud of her achievement. She has been able to chip in financially too. But Ramanjit wants to do more for her family, even if it means moving abroad after her studies. Her dreams are ever growing and alive, and rightly so.
World Vision India has been working with 24 communities in Faridkot District since 2010.