12 Jul 2014

My Leadership Journey - Krishna

Krishna is a founder member of YRC Ujaan,
Youth Trainer.Read her earlier post

In this photo, Krishna has just arrived in
Bangkok to share this story as a resource
person for Oxfam's Gender Leadership
Programme, June 2014

I am Krishna Goldar. My home is in Gobindopur bustee, Kolkata. I am a founder member and the secretary of Ujaan group. I feel very proud to say this - we, the boys and girls of my neighbourhood, have created this group ourselves! I am also a youth trainer at Thoughtshop Foundation.
We used to live in our own house in New Barrackpore, a suburb of Kolkata. All three of us siblings went to school. Our mother stayed home spent time with us and helped us with our studies. Our father ran his own meat shop. After working all day, he would play cards and drink with his friends. If we ever made a mistake, he would shower blows on our backs, just like the drummers who vigorously beat their drums with their sticks during puja time. We used to be mortally scared of his anger. We never dared to speak to him. Yet it was a happy time, we used to study and play as children should.

Once when we were visiting our uncle’s house during Kali Puja, a conflict ensued - my father and his brother had a violent fight. As a consequence of this, our lives changed overnight. We never returned to our beautiful house again.

My Leadership Journey - Shahina

Shahina is founder member of YRC Roshni
Read her earlier post
I live in the Rajabazar area of Kolkata in a Muslim community where the boys do small odd jobs here and there, and girls are housewives; the boys do not study much, but the girls study very hard as they need to get married into good families. At home, I live with my parents and three brothers.
I wanted to Fly
As a child, my whole day was spent playing with my brothers – cricket, hide and seek or flying kites together. My life also was like a kite – sometimes I would watch myself soar in the open sky flying freely; and sometimes I would withdraw, wound up like line around the reel.

My name is Shahina. It means a bird which flies in very high altitudes. I also wanted to fly. From a very young age, I used to be the leader of my group. When we went out to play, everyone came out and joined.
I am a Girl!
I remember the day I realized for the first time that I was a girl, and the freedom my brothers enjoyed could never be granted to me. My friends were outside my house, calling to me to come out and play. My mother said that if I went out, she would cut off my feet. “Now you have grown up. You cannot play outside anymore.” When I asked why my brothers were allowed to go out, my mother responded, “They are boys!” This one answer my mother gave me generated a thousand questions in my mind. This was the beginning of my life as a woman, and I was being stopped in my tracks at this initial juncture. There was so much left to do!

My Leadership Journey - Papiya

Papiya is a member of YRC Youth Voice

I am Papiya Mondol, 20 years old. In my family, there are my parents, my younger brother and my paternal grandmother. Up until I was 6 years old, I lived in Krishnanagar, in my mother’s maiden home, because ever since my mother got married, my paternal grandmother didn’t let her daughter-in-law live in her house. My father works in the BSF, and whenever he would come home on his holidays, he came to Krishnanagar.

I think I started facing life’s first challenges from then. In school, my friends asked me where my home was, and they laughed when I told them my mothers home address. They said, “That is your uncle’s home! Don’t you have your own home?”

My Leadership Journey - Piyali

Piyali is a member of YRC Drishtikon,
Peer Counsellor
Read her earlier post
I am Piyali Paul and I live in a small neighbourhood near Dumdum Airport. There are four members in my family – my mother, my two younger brothers and me. Our family is very poor. Ma cooks in people’s houses; I do tuitions, teach dance to kids and work as a Youth Facilitator. My brothers sometimes work as labour. All of us earn our own livelihood, we support our own education.

If I’m asked the story of my life, I want to say first that I don’t like to think back to my childhood at all. There are a few things which I like to think back upon – like climbing trees, going out to play in the evenings and stealing guavas on the way back from school – these were fun things. But my childhood was much more than these, more painful. I have seen my father only twice in my life. I used to asked my mother, “Ma, where is my father?” Ma used to say, “He lives apart from us – I don’t know where.” Once my father had returned, but he went away again, leaving a lot of debts for Ma to pay back.

My Leadership Journey - Uma

Uma is founder member of YRC Nabadisha
Youth Trainer
Read her earlier post

My name is Uma. I live with my parents and two sisters in a bustling area in the city of Kolkata. The people here grapple with a lot of problems, yet try to live together with a smile on their faces.

Though my younger sister and I came into this world instead of the desired male children, still despite many financial problems, our parents never neglected us. We grew up amidst of a lot of love and freedom. Perhaps it was because we were three daughters and there was no boy in the family that we failed to realize in our childhoods how society discriminates between boys and girls. And perhaps this was the reason why I was a little different from childhood, meaning, a little different from a typical girl.

As a child, I hardly had any friends who were girls. I would climb trees like the boys, ride bicycles, collect money from our neighbours during the pujas and enjoy the boisterous celebrations with the others. Thinking back, I feel that I also gravitated more towards boys rather than girls in search of the free life that boys enjoy, unhindered by obstacles.

When we were small, our father had to be frequently away from home because of work, and so mother had to face the challenge of bringing up three daughters more or less singlehandedly. So we learnt to be self-reliant and take care of ourselves. There were many instances where we felt deprived. I remember taking a three rupee Parle-G biscuit packet as school tiffin; out of 12 biscuits, 6 would be for me, and 6 for my elder sister.

My Leadership Journey - Bandana

Bandana is a member of YRC Ujaan
Youth Facilitator

I am Bandana Makhal. I stay in a small slum in Gobindopur in Kolkata’s Lake Gardens area. We are three siblings. My elder brother and younger sister are both married. My brother stays separately with his wife and kids in our house in Garia. My sister got married last year, and she stays with her in-laws. So now, at home, there is me and there are my parents. My father is a mason and my mother works as a domestic help.
Our financial situation was not good. As a child, my brother was only interested playing and my sister remained busy with housework. None of them took that much of an interest in studies. But I was always keen on studies. Most of the day, I would sit immersed in my books. I would rarely go out or interact with our neighbours. My dream ever since childhood was to teach in a school. So whenever we friends would play at being teacher and student, I used to hang a towel from my head and pretend it was my long hair hanging down my back. I would be the teacher and the rest of my friends be my students.