December 14, 2017
By Kim Burnett, Shadhika President and CEO
Kavita* is angry.
We are sitting in a non-descript, corporate conference room where Kavita is currently doing a three-month accounting internship. Earlier this year, Kavita received her Bachelors in Commerce, and Baale Mane, Shadhika’s grantee partner in Bangalore, found her this paid internship, which we all hope will be a stepping-stone to her landing her first job.
We’ve just had a meeting with Kavita’s supervisor, who gave an enthusiastic report of how Kavita has been doing, reporting that she is hard working, reliable, curious, and a good team player. This is everything
one would want to hear from an employer. Indeed, the company is so pleased with Kavita’s performance, they have offered to extend her internship for another three months. All of this brings tears to our eyes. Because we know the journey Kavita has taken to get to this point.
Kavita came to Baale Mane, a home for girls who have been orphaned, abandoned or abused by their families, when she was seven, after being found begging on the streets of Bangalore, abandoned by her family.
Kavita’s fate is similar to that of many girls in India, who, from the moment they are born, find themselves unwanted by their families. But with Baale Mane’s support, Kavita has been able to overcome her fate and chart a new life for herself. And now, she’s taking the next step in her life, getting a job and becoming financially self-sufficient.
It is during a discussion with Kavita afterwards about how she feels about her job and while we are counselling her about being responsible with her wages, that she begins to talk about wanting to use some of her earnings to go back to her village and confront her family. “I want them to see all that I have become. I want to show them they were wrong to throw me away like so much garbage.” Her eyes burn large with her anger.
I find myself conflicted by her intentions and uncertain how to respond. On the one hand, I meet her anger with my own. Overcome by the injustice that she has faced, for a moment, I have the urge to buy her the train ticket home. But then I am struck by the sad realization that such a journey would no doubt be a wasted effort, not producing the result she desires and more probably only serving to sharpen her rage.
So instead, we all begin to discuss the pros and cons of her taking this action, honoring her feelings but also helping her to work through what action would make the most sense and enable her to understand her past, but not to continue to be a victim of it. Through this discussion, she begins to calm down. As she looks down at her hands folded into her lap, one can see the quiet realization spreading over her. Her past, while still a half-healed wound, is not her fate. That’s hers alone to choose. She can keep revisiting the past, or she can look forward. She looks up at us and breaks into a smile, “Can I show you my desk?”
And we get up for a tour of the office.
* named changed for safetyRead more