Renu – From Student to Teacher

Renu and her family came to Delhi from Aligarh in 1998 and moved into their own house in Faridabad. In 2004, the house was robbed and in the same year her husband met with the accident. She was forced to take a loan for his treatment and the subsequent hospital charges. The marriage of her husband’s brother then plunged the family further into debt, a problem faced by many Indians who are unable to maintain liquidity for emergency expenses.

In order to begin paying this back, Renu sold her house in Faridabad and moved to a rented apartment in Madanpur Khadar. She desperately needed a job, as her husband was unable to work following his accident, but she lacked any education or basic skills. Renu had become aware through her community of Project WHY’s vocational classes for women. Keen to start earning, she was immediately attracted to the idea of developing a new skill, and signed up to our sewing and stitching classes in the evenings at the Women’s Centre in Khader. As she learnt, she began doing small jobs for her friends and neighbours to earn of money.

Renu was now moving forward in life. She was making a modest income and gaining new skills, whilst her husband had managed to find a low-income job as a part-time driver. However, the family remained burdened with debts and it was a struggle to put food on the table every day. Renu dreamt of providing her kids with a proper education, but a private institution was out of the question given their debts. She nonetheless pushed on, starting a small sewing business within her community.

In 2010, the Women’s Centre in Khader sadly lost its sewing teacher. In need of a new one, we noticed Renu’s progress over the years and felt that she could carry out this task. After discussions, we offered her the position. She was apprehensive at first and lacked the confidence to adequately convey her skills to others. However, she began to grow into the job as she saw the progress of the young women learning the skill that she had become passionate about. She met new people every day, including our volunteers from abroad, and she vastly improved her communication skills.

Having seen the atmosphere at the Project WHY centre and the support given to the children, Renu decided to enrol her own two children, Ashish and Shrina, into the educational programme. They continued to attend Government schools, but thanks to the support of Project Why, Ashish is excelling in Class 8, whilst Shrina is now doing a B-Tech degree.

As for Renu, she has now been teaching at the centre for six years. She currently teaches stitching to 80 young ladies every year, hoping that this will impact their lives in the same way that it impacted hers. She still has debts to pay, but has a clear financial strategy to pay them off. For the first time, she feels security and self-worth and she hopes to give the same to others through her classes.