Fossil Group is committed to improving the lives of young women and girls around the world. Opportunity for Her offers a glimpse into the lives of women whose stories reflect personal growth and empowerment.
Rama comes from a small village in Rajasthan, India.
Because there was very little expected of her, she expected little of herself. That changed when Team Balika visited her home. Team Balika is a group of community volunteers — from Fossil Foundation partner, Educate Girls — who venture into rural communities to bring out-of-school girls into classrooms. Through their efforts, Rama’s parents consented to Rama returning to school.
We asked Rama about the opportunities she sees for herself now that’s she’s getting an education.
When you were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I never really gave it a thought. I was perhaps too busy making dolls out of used clothes and playing with them or helping mother with household work. In our society it is the parents who decide what their daughters should be doing when they grow up, so I did not ever bother thinking about it. Nobody asked me what I wanted to be.
And now, what do you dream of becoming?
I think I want to be a police officer. Nobody listens to women in my village, but everybody listens to the police. Every other girl wants to be a teacher, but I want to be something that is often seen as a career option for boys.
Who is your role model and why?
My role model is my paternal uncle. He is the most educated person in my entire family and has the courage to speak up for what he thinks is right. I want to be like him—educated and strong.
Describe the moment Team Balika came into your life.
The school that ran upper primary classes was about seven kilometers outside of my village. I’d have to walk and it wasn’t a very safe route. This is the main reason why many parents in my village are unable to send their children, especially daughters. I remember the day when Bablu Kanwar from Team Balika came to my house to talk to my father. My father told him why it was not possible to send me that far to attend school. I really wanted to study further, but I remember feeling choked and couldn’t speak a word in front of my father. Bablu informed my father about the government-run residential school that had many girls from far away villages and from migrating communities. By the end of the conversation, my father agreed to send me there. I jumped with joy and ran to my best friend Kavita’s house to break the news to her.
Kavita’s parents later inquired about the residential school from my parents and they agreed to send her with me.
What message do you have for other children in your village who are out of school?
They must ask someone in the family or community to help them convince their parents. If they do not want to be laborers working at construction sites, they must get educated.
What is the biggest fear that you’ve overcome?
I thought I could never live without my mother, but I can now. I was also scared to speak up, but I have overcome that fear and can now talk to my parents and elders about my thoughts and feelings.
What has been your proudest moment since you started school (or returned to school)?
When I wrote a complete letter and sent it to my parents. My uncle was very proud of me.
What have you discovered about yourself?
I have discovered that I can play for hours outdoors. This is something that I could never do back in my village because the girls are expected to play with dolls within the boundaries of their homes.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned from your classmates?
I have grown up being witness to class and community divides and was always taught that certain classes/communities are lower than mine while some other classes/communities are higher; the higher class can never be friends with the lower class. The children in the school in my village came with the same set of learnings. But it’s very different in this residential school here. Since we study and live together, we forget about the class divide. I can now co-exist.
I can now co-exist.Rama
Have you learned something that has changed how you see the world?
We were recently introduced to the solar system and the universe. I never thought we lived on a ‘planet’ that constantly moves and that stars and the moon belong to a different world altogether. When I had initially seen the map of India, I realized that my village was a very small place, and now it seems that Prithvi (Earth) is also very small when compared to other planets.