Hoisting her little girl, nearly one, onto her hip, Amrita* ( 23) described how she worked part-time to pay her way through a year and a half of college, aiming for a BComm degree. Sadly her money ran out when it was time to pay for her third semester exams.
Her father’s alcoholism had already destabilized her family.
When he died two years ago, leaving no money to pay for a dowry (also called “bride-price” - still a common practice in India, even though it was made illegal in 1961), her mother arranged for her to marry her cousin, seven years her senior.
Amrita begged for three years to finish her education first, but was given no choice in the matter. She was consoled to some degree when her cousin and his mother promised that they would support her in attending college, but to Amrita’s extreme disappointment, her mother-in-law reneged on this agreement.
A year later she gave birth to their daughter.
Amrita and her husband and baby girl live in a tiny home with her mother-in-law. All of her husband’s earnings go to his mother; little-to-nothing is given to her to care for their child or herself. To make matters worse, both sides of the family seemed to be trapped in a prison of debt.
Amrita works very hard to perform all of the domestic duties of the household. Somehow she has been able to carve out two hours a day, beginning in January, to attend Basis’ digital literacy program at Bloom** close to her home in Benson Town, Bangalore.
Her joy in the classroom is palpable.
Soon, armed with computer skills and the work experience she already has, she plans to find a job. This income will make it possible for her to help her own mother, who would then be free to look after her daughter while she is away at work; the rest can be saved to pay the fees needed to finish college, even if she must wait until her daughter starts kindergarten in two or three years.
Thankfully, her husband is supportive of this plan.
Amrita’s story is not dissimilar to the stories of other young women attending Bloom, some of whom have been forced to marry at ages even younger than 18.
Your generous support holds the power to rewrite Amrita's narrative and that of her classmates. By becoming a cherished member of the Basis Learning Community, you have the opportunity to shape the future not only for Amrita but for daughter, her classmates, and their children too. Join the growing Basis Learning Community of supporters today by establishing a monthly gift today!
**Bloom Digital Literacy Centres are the joint project of Basis and Family Development Services, India. Currently two Blooms are in operation in Bangalore: one in Benson Town, and one in Bommanahalli