Aarati Shah, 9 yr old from Janakpur of southern Nepal, started her studies 3 years ago at Ram Janaki School in Mahottari district.
Aarati’s daily routine left us perplexed, but also quite inspired as she started her intense daily routine at 5am by getting chores done in her house. She cleaned the dishes, the family cattle shed, made the kitchen ready, put on the school uniform and packed her bags ready for school. After a busy day in school, Aarati mostly comes back home and again engages herself in more household chores, like feeding the family’s cattle.
As we met her, Aarati seemed to be full of life, despite her extremely busy routine. But as many other kids of her age, she also had a dream of her own: ”One day I will become a doctor, I want to treat people and make them feel better, to be able to use medication and syringes to treat everyone .“
Her passion for medicine was inspiring, however we couldn’t help but to notice how life in her neighborhood was more or less just about working in the farms for a daily wage. Finishing daily chores in Janakpur are often valued to be way more important than education. But Aarati’s mother told us “How much can she accomplish working in a farm? I hope to be able to educate her enough so that she can have a profession of her desire. Maybe she could have her own business, or she really could be a doctor one day. Therefore I will try to do my best to assist Aarati in her studies. “
Mahottari is one of the districts in Nepal with the lowest literacy rates, especially in the case of girls. Many of them have become victims of early marriage traditions which have been fueling illiteracy, gender discrimination and poverty throughout the history of Nepal. However, things have been slowly changing for the better. Once, there was no school around and children didn’t have the privilege for even a basic education. But thanks to Fida Nepal, Relative Nepal, and principal of Ram Janaki School, Mr. Kishun Dev Kuswaha, there is now a well-organized, child-friendly school in just Aarati’s neighborhood.
Winning the prize as the best school in the region, the community’s parents were sending their kids they’re more and more. This resulted in a record number of Dalit students attending school in the whole region of Mahottari District.