This is the story of a young girl, Aarti, who grew up in the slums of Mumbai, India. Aarti is now an educator and founder of Sakhi Girls School, which educates girls in her community. Growing up in the slums of Mumbai, poverty and lack of guidance and resources were usual part of her life. “Due to poverty, lack of proper guidance at home and poor focus on quality education at school, I failed in the 10th standard,” she recalls. Yet, Aarti was determined to continue her studies. “I did not give up, but at an initial stage, it was very hard for me to move ahead confidently and to come out from such challenging situations.” Aarti started supporting her family by making and selling jewelry and it took her three years to save enough to go back to school. She not only graduated high school, but she went on to get an undergraduate degree in sociology.
Through her life, Aarti realized that what keeps slum girls behind is the lack of literacy and basic mathematics skills. Due to the lack of importance given on education for girls, they often start helping out the family to provide for them and eventually drop out of school.
Sakhi School, which Arti founded, provides classes to supplement the school curriculum for slum girls. Aarti conducts reading and writing activities and started a weekly vocabulary building project, keeping in mind the language requirements of higher classes. She also teaches the girls financial planning for their education. Aarti has also started a library with English books for the community’s girls.“I was just a school dropout. Today, I am a changemaker and educating my slum girls,” she says.
Sakhi in hindi means a close friend, confidante and guide. Aarti is an inspiration to all girls that they can be a "sakhi'' to their fellows and help all girls continue to succeed. Kudos to you, Aarti!
Aarti Naik can be found here.