Janka Shinde – Latur

Deepshikha:  a journey from darkness towards the light at the end of the tunnel

Janka, 25 years old now, currently staying at Kalam, Latur is appearing for the Maharashtra Public Service Commission exam. She is preparing for civil services. Janka was 16 when she was selected for ‘Deepshikha’ by the Gram Panchayat from Kalam village.

Janka was not just working hard but was also studying. Janka’s family includes eight sisters, one brother and her parents. They owned but one acre of land because of which Janka and her sisters would do menial labour jobs at people’s places, farm jobs, etc. Such was their schedule for days along with a burning desire for education.

After being selected for Deepshikha, Janka went through a 10-day training organized by UNICEF. The training included lessons on life skills, decision-making abilities, research aptitude, conversational skills and stress management. Janka’s point of view completely changed because of training. She realized her self worth and questions concerning other girls were apparent to her.

1) After the training, she got all the girls in the village together. She informed them of their rights. She passed on all the knowledge she gained in the training. She also undertook a number of initiatives for example; she started a savings group for girls. A social worker from Pune also contributed Rs. 2000 to it.

2)  All the girls underwent health check-ups with the help of Anganwadi this. The hemoglobin levels of many girls were between 7.5 -9, that’s when they were told about healthy diets and were prescribed tablets to increase their hemoglobin levels. Janka made committees among the girls.

1) Committees such as the school’s Grievance Redressal Committee and Environment Committee were made where Janka got the support of the girls.

2) Janka objected to her and her sisters’ child marriage and convinced her parents against it, explaining the demerits of child marriage. She fought against child marriage and convinced them to let her continue education. This was her most prominent achievement and now she is known as the ” Defender against Child Marriage”.

3) She participated in the Gram Sabha of her village and courageously asked questions regarding issues concerning women and girls.

Janka took a 4-year gap after her SSC due to the prevailing poverty. Then she did her B.A. and was preparing for her MPSC examinations with the financial aid she received from Paragon, a European National. Janka is pursuing her dream of becoming a PSI (Police Sub-Inspector) with the same aide and we wish this Deepshikha keeps shining this way forever.

Written by : Sujata Shirke