Kusum is a poor farmer's daughter. Her family does not own the land they farm, they just work there, while the landowner keeps the lion share of the earnings. They only get 30 cents on a dollar of crops sold.
In my community, women are seldom sent to school, but my parents believe in education. They knew that education, especially women's education, is the only way out of generational poverty. For me, the path to education was never easy. From a young age, I have contributed to the farm work, from milking cows, to cooking, tilling the fields, I did whatever was needed to help my family. But our poverty never stopped me from dreaming. In 2016, I got an opportunity to be a part of Sitare Foundation and got a full scholarship for my education. It was a great opportunity for me to fulfill my dreams and my parents' ambitions. Before being a part of this foundation I never thought about a career. It felt like my destiny was written at birth, I will farm, then get married, help my new family with farming, and raise a family. My entire existence changed after I joined Sitare Foundation. In the past few years I have changed so much. I have improved tremendously in my English. My current English comprehension, reading skills, and speaking skills were unthinkable by my previous self. With my new found confidence, I no longer feel ashamed to talk with people in English. The field of computer science fascinated me the most and I now aspire to become a software engineer. I wish to achieve this dream through the Sitare Foundation's continued support and I believe in our vision of liberating generations of communities from poverty and deprivation through the power of education.
This is a video from our first visit to Kusum's home in 2016. Kusum was an incredibly shy girl, she barely said a few words. We were shocked to look at the poverty in her home. Back then we had to make sure that her family was committed to her education. Little did we know that her parents will turn out to be one of the most strong willed and dedicated set of parents for their daughter's education. Through her determination and grit, and unwavering support from her family, Kusum has come far.