By Renu Gupta (Cincinnati, OH)
Bharat Bhoomi is the land of brave, intelligent, smart and devoted women (Naari Shakti). We have met many committed women in several SAC supported hostels. They are responsible for office work, kitchen, teaching or general supervision. Here we want you to meet great women who have left their home, their town to establish SAC hostels in very remote, underdeveloped area of Bhuj. Asha bahen Patel left her home in north Gujrat and came to Anjaar, Bhuj , Gujarat. Vimala Devi left her home and established a hostel for girls of slums in Jaipur. Let’s meet them.
Seva Bharati Bal Vidyalaya – Jaipur, Rajasthan
We would like to share our wonderful memorable experience visiting the hostel in Mahesh Nagar, Jaipur in February 2022.
Seva Bharati Bal Vidyalaya is a home for 21 girls and 14 boys as well as a school for 325 students. It has been a very encouraging and inspirational initiative of Mrs. Vimala Kumawat ji. She established this school/hostel 19 years ago through her consistent hard work and determination.
Vimala ji used to visit slums of Jaipur, where people collect garbage; she would witness the children collecting garbage and their parents had no understanding of hygiene or how important it was to give education to their kids. Vimala ji used to pick up the children, bring them home, give them shower, given them clean clothes, teach human values of life, and explain to them the importance of education. She faced huge opposition from her own family and the parents of slums. The parents’ concern was that if their children went to school then who would collect trash for money that they needed. On the other hand, her own family members did not like the idea of receiving slum girls in their home.
The family of Vimala ji and the slum people thought that after some time Vimala ji will give up her craziness. No one could shake her determination, so she left her own home, took 21 girls with her, and started living in a makeshift home. She took the girls to school and started attending the school along with girls.
Vimla ji is lovingly called Dadi (Grand Mother) by all the students. Now many of those girls are going to college, working outside home, and have started their own families. These girls are also experts in music, dance, and other activities. They are extremely thankful to Vimla ji for giving them better lives. They say if “Daadi” was not there, they don’t know what would have happened to them.
Now even slums parents are grateful to Vimla ji. For Vimla ji the hostel is her home and she sleeps in the same room on the floor.
After witnessing the success of this school, we are confident that this hostel, supported by SAC will continue to educate, help, inspire, and guide many girls in need and give them productive happy lives that all kids deserve.
Vimala Kumawat ji truly exemplifies what genuine Seva is by sacrificing her life for a grand mission and selfless service.
Our Trip to Anjaar, Bhuj Gujarat Hostel
On our trip to Rann of Kuchh in Jan 2023, we decided to visit a very special girls’ hostel in Anjaar. There are a total of 35 girls who stay in the hostel and study in nearby schools.
When we arrived at the hostel two very powerful, wonderful friends Asha bahen Patel greeted us. Asha ji is the warden, supervisor, caretaker and mother of these girls. She is from northern part of Gujrat. After leaving her home she made this southwestern deserted land of Bhuj her home. Her dedication for the cause is remarkable. I thought Asha Patel will be an elderly motherly figure woman, but when we met her, we found the very energetic Asha Bahen. She drives a scooter and the whole Anjaar town knows her and respects her. Her close associate also lives there. Both of the women power (Naari Shakti) is the heart of the hostel.
We found the hostel with 4 halls, kitchen, toilets and courtyard very clean – clean beyond our imagination. We reached there by 1 pm; at two 2 pm all girls were coming back from the school. When they entered, all in line, arranged their shoes on the shoe rack. Immediately changed their uniform, went to kitchen, and served food to all and ate. After lunch was over all dishes were cleaned by girls and kitchen was cleaned. Now it was time to do the homework. We wanted to talk to them and meet them. Therefore, they all sat in the courtyard around us. Girls in the hostel are very talented. They presented some songs, drama scripts and dances.
Remember this is area is called Kuchh, where the artwork specially hand embroidery is world famous, and these girls demonstrated us excellent pieces of embroidery and I took some.
Just like any hostel, students perform better in the schools, have better value system, and appreciates life more than us. They are hard working girls who came out of all the odds.
We found very disturbing news as we were told many of the girls have been engaged as child in their village. Asha bahen and her staff have done very hard work to pursue parents to send their daughters to schools. When I asked these girls about their marriage, we found that they don’t want to marry so early. The best way to combat this problem is for girls to study hard and choose their career path. If they found their fiancée is deserving then only marry him, otherwise find your own partner. Total 300 girls from the hostel have been respectfully married and are happy.
In tribal Bhuj area there are many issues of drinking, conversion, and rigid traditions. Scared parents try to fix marriage for their daughters in childhood. We met one girl who has become a nurse and has married a boy of her choice. It was very encouraging.