Photo Credit: Lotus Outreach International
Growth. For the past year, we have seen tremendous emotional and academic growth from the KEF Scholars supported through our partnership with Lotus Outreach International in India. For the past two years, KEF has supported some of the most dedicated young people in the Lotus community to pursue tertiary education. Not long ago we met some bright young women in an academic transportation program that Lotus created called Blossom Bus. These women are driven to achieve their goals through higher education and won’t let anyone or anything stop them!
The Blossom Bus girls have bloomed into stronger, more confident women with a vision for their future. They continue to inspire others to pursue the education they deserve. This past year nearly 30 new students were inducted into the Kapadia Scholars program at Lotus Outreach International.
In an interview with a few students, Lotus staff member Sabrina asks the Blossom Bus college girls about what their education has meant for their lives, they share how it is allowing them to challenge what girls can usually say and do within their social spheres. While many of the scholars have faced similar challenges and experienced doubts about their ambition to seek higher education, it is clear that nothing will stop these fierce young women from going after their goals.
“Initially the girls were shy to express their feelings, but later they warmed up to speak their minds,” says Sabrina.
Meet Hemlata, a young college student served by the Blossom Bus and on the path to receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree from a women’s college in Palwal, India. Hemlata, against her father’s initial opinions on her academics, strives to push beyond her more conservative and rural society’s gender boundaries. Sabrina mentioned that at their initial meeting, “[Hemlata] was bursting to respond to my questions yet held herself back as she was taught not to talk too much in front of others.” Hemlata later did call Sabrina when she was more comfortable to enthusiastically share about what education has meant for her.
"...He wants me to be a good example for my cousin sisters.”
Hemlata’s father is a farmer and her mother a homemaker. Her society has predetermined ideas about who they would like her to be, but Hemlata has other plans. While she often helps tend the fields with her father, society expects her to model after the role her mother plays in their community. Her older brother played a key part in convincing her father of her goals. Hemlata says, “Now my father has full confidence in me and his way of things has changed too. He wants me to be a good example for my cousin sisters.” This opportunity comes with a responsibility to her community as well. Hemlata is the first girl in her family to reach this level of education and continues to push above and beyond. She would like to use her education to help give back to her community. She mentions there are issues with their water system and local parks she hopes to address. We know Hemlata is destined for great things and has grown into a strong, empowered example for the young women in her community. She has already expressed support for the idea to host self-defense classes for women in her village!
A similarly enterprising scholar is Arzoo. She comes from a hardworking family and is pursuing her Bachelor of Arts degree while studying to become a Korean Language Interpreter. Arzoo has faced similar obstacles in her journey to achieve her goals, but that has not deterred her from fighting through them. While her father initially disapproved of her pursuing her degree, she did not lose hope that she could break out of the box society had pushed her in. She “has now reached a level where she is helping her father to pay off a loan taken against their home” to support Arzoo’s education. Her undeniable grit and confidence in herself propels her hope to become an interpreter and her desire to teach the Korean language to her community members once finished with her studies. Arzoo, this past year, has helped assure that the children in her community don’t fall behind in their studies due to the pandemic by regularly tutoring them through another Lotus program.
These KEF Scholars supported through our partnership with Lotus Outreach International are blossoming with a new-found confidence from their education. All 12 of them are creating the future they want, and becoming powerful role models to change womens' place in their society for generations to come. We cannot wait to see how our partnership with Lotus Outreach International will continue to expand. These young women are receiving the education they deserve. They are cultivating a new societal norm that does not limit a girl’s dream or goals. They are helping usher in a new era filled with relentless, strong, empowered women just like themselves.
Photo Credit: Lotus Outreach International