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"I am here today and have a future tomorrow because of Shadhika and Jabala. I feel very grateful from my heart because I can become something tomorrow."

–Tajdina, Shadhika Scholar

When She Leads: Tajdina

By Kendra Nicolai & Sabah Siddiqui

September 1, 2020

This interview is part of our When She Leads: Back to School series. Learn more.

Tajdina is a second year Shadhika Scholar pursuing her degree in Nursing. She is a program participant with our partner site Jabala in West Bengal. Tajdina was interviewed by Program Officer Kendra Nicolai and Donor & Program Associate Sabah Siddiqui.


Press play to hear Tajdina’s introduction.

Hi Tajdina! What inspired you to want to become a nurse?

First of all, since childhood I have had dreams of becoming self-established. As a child, I wanted to become a teacher. But in childhood I did not know of many other occupations because I was little and only knew of teaching as a job. As I grew up, I learned there are so many jobs, and began to think of other possibilities. I chose to study nursing because I believe it is a beautiful thing to serve people. Also, there is great opportunity for work in nursing, and I think it is the best profession so I can do better in my future.

Can you describe the difference between having classes in person to having classes online?

I think classes at school in person is a much better experience.  When I do classes from home there are various problems. In class at school, I am in a different environment to study. When I am at home like during lockdown, it is not easy because of various noises and distractions. At home I study at a table in a room with my family there. I don’t have a personal room. Others in my family work next to me while I am studying. Also I am currently taking my online courses on my mobile phone, and this is very difficult. 

When we study in our school we can discuss in groups and sit with classmates, so school work was much easier. At home, school work is much more difficult. I know we have to accept this situation.  There is nothing we can do apart from this lockdown, and if I want to keep studying, I have to do it this way.

Because of COVID-19, the nursing school is not holding the practical classes in the hospital and I miss going like I did  before the pandemic started. As nursing students, we go to learn and serve people at the hospital, and see them become healthy after being ill. They are very happy, with a glow in their eyes and a smile on their faces when they recover. I love these nurse and patient interactions.

Another struggle is data for my phone. During the lockdown, if my Internet data pack is depleted, I can’t just recharge it and most times have to wait. I will miss class on days when I don’t have enough data. Technical problems are always happening whether it is no network connection, low battery, and electricity outages when it’s raining or stormy. Any time these things happen, I cannot attend class. After being absent from class due to technical issues, I call my classmate friends and ask them what the teacher has taught. We all share notes, and then I will study.

Tajdina speaking with another young woman in her village for her Shadhika Scholar Community Leadership Project in 2019.

How do your parents feel about you studying at home?

They want to cooperate, they do. Sometimes the situation becomes difficult, like when other people visit our home – it is necessary to invite them to come inside. My parents have to attend to them and the guests don’t understand that I am studying. Since my classes are Monday – Saturday, during those 6 days my mom does not make me help around the house. She says: “You have classes so you do homework, don’t do household chores.” This is so nice! On Sunday I have no classes so I rest some, and I do household chores to help.

My mom tells me, “When you become a nurse, we will be old. You have a younger sister and we can’t afford the finance for her to do school. So, when you get a nursing job, you can pay for her to get her education.” This is a very big, important thing for me that my mom trusts me to take on the responsibility of my younger sister’s education.

Do you have any doubts about your second year nursing classes online starting October?

My only doubt is whether government will or will not allow my university to open. I think the university will think of another plan for the nursing practical classes, as our training is different from regular classroom studies. Maybe they will decide we can have classes at the hospital, if we are taking proper precautions with PPE to attend. I hope they will think of this, but I don’t know.

Tajdina keeping up with her studies at home during the lockdown.

How is the COVID-19 situation in your community?

I live in a small village, and COVID-19 infections are not very high here. In my village, there are around 4,000 people, and 1 person has been infected and now recovered. Outside of our village, there are other villages where more people are infected. I feel safer in my village. Not totally though as people go outside our village for work, they might bring it back. There are risks.

What have you discovered about yourself in this lockdown?

I have discovered that, with my family together, we are safe and happy to be together. Before, my father had little time to stay with us because he would need to leave home for work. My sister and I didn’t have much time, because we were both going to school. In lockdown, we are all at home which has been very good.

I am practicing writing poetry, and am helping my younger sister with her studies. There are many various things I have noticed while being home, which I didn’t notice before. When I was outside the home, my mom did all of the household works herself. Now I am trying to help her when I can and have learned some cooking. 

Is there anything else you would like to share?

First of all, “thank you” is what I want to say to Shadhika and Jabala. I am here today and have a future tomorrow because of Shadhika and Jabala. Without your support, my family could not afford my college. My family is supportive of me but finances are a problem. I feel very grateful from my heart because I can become something tomorrow. I can see that they are so happy and proud of me.

Today before this interview, I had my first year final exam for Nursing. The pandemic situation did not make this easy, but I managed the courses and think I did well. Now, I am waiting for my second year to begin, maybe in October or November. I feel free at the moment!


Like Tajdina this fall, students in India are facing colossal challenges that sometimes feel out of their control. The access to technology and the social isolation exacerbate the already difficult conditions of studying from home. Under these circumstances, the learning gap between young men and young women is likely to widen and the risk of early forced marriage is threatening a lifetime of opportunities.

You can make a difference by giving to our COVID fund right now.

A monthly donation of $50 gives one of our Shadhika Scholars the opportunity to buy a personal computer and access computer literacy to pursue online learning.

A single donation of $150 allows one of our Scholars to have a more stable wireless connection for a year to access her teachers and stay in touch with her peers for academic support.

A $1,500 scholarship pledge sends a young woman to college for a year, alleviating the economic hardship that may have befallen her family and could stunt her educational goals.

Read more