Ayesha also comes from Uttar Pradesh. She arrived in Delhi five years ago with her mother and three younger siblings. Ayesha’s father was an abusive alcoholic. When her mother tried to stand up to him, she was threatened by her in-laws. Eventually she was forced to leave her husband, taking her children with her, to begin a new life for them in Delhi. She found work as a cleaner in a local school and remains the sole breadwinner for her family.
Ayesha tells us: ‘One thing I adore about my mother is that she never discriminates between my brothers and my sister: many people don’t give household work to boys. But my mother is not like that…. Some mothers teach their daughters to cook roti at a very young age, but I am 12 years old and I still don’t know how to cook or make roti!’
Instead, her mother encourages her to learn. Although Ayesha had never been to school in Uttar Pradesh, her mother taught her to read and write by borrowing books from her neighbours. The teachers at their School were astonished at her ability when she arrived and put her straight into Class 6 at the age of 12. She continues to shine academically, as well as being talented in creative arts and theatre.
Ayesha loves school so much that she will even come in when she is ill with fever. When her teachers ask her why, she explains: ‘In school I feel better, and by the end of the day it will go away.’
With the help of CGEF sponsorship Ayesha hopes to take some of the pressure of her mother and fulfil her ambition to become a leading fashion designer.
The CGEF works with many schools across India, where an estimated 8.1 million children are out of school and the pressures of poverty force many disadvantaged parents to take their children out of secondary school. When families can’t afford to educate all their children, it is often the girls who lose out. For every 100 boys enrolled in secondary education in India there are 81 girls.
We’re delighted to have begun working with an excellent School in Delhi this year, and look forward to watching Ayesha and Priya flourish under their care.