“What do you like the most, Umra?”
“Apple,” she says, in her soft, sure voice. “Sometimes my father gets me apples from the railway station without my even asking for it.”
Umra can spend hours drawing and painting. “I love drawing fairies because they can fly”. She is her brother’s role model who shows off her drawing book with utter most pride.
Umra Salmani is 10 years old. She lives in Uttar Pradesh, in Northern India. Having lost her mother at an early age, Umra took charge of the house and started taking care of her father and younger brother. Going to school was never a part of the plan.
But after her father and herself attended various counselling sessions, Umra joined school, 2 years ago, and she is now a Bal Manch leader (Student Council Leader).
School is a place of freedom for Umra and her friends. A place where they can express themselves. They are discovering their rights and asking for them without fear. Umra and her friends are reassured that their lives matter.
Recently Umra arrived at school to discover the preparations for Gyan Mela, a knowledge festival. Instead of regular classes, the morning was dedicated to observing and learning skills from local craftspeople, artisans and experts.
But unlike Umra, more than 6 million children still don’t go to school in India. What’s worse is that, about 40% adolescent girls drop out of school due to deteriorating financial conditions, child marriage, superstitions or sheer ignorance.
Photo: Natasha Badhwar/Oxfam
Empower another Umra and children like her: https://www.oxfamindia.org/blog/1472/where-school-means-freedom