Sikander, Sindhu, and their five daughters – Ruchika (26), Ruzail (24), Komal (23), Khushi (17), and Suhani (13).
Sindhu and Sikander live with their five daughters in Nagpur, India. They took their first loan in 2008 and have since put everything into their daughters’ education.
This is their story.
SINDHU AND SIKANDER – CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE LOANS YOU RECEIVED FROM OPPORTUNITY’S PARTNER, ESAF?
Sindhu: “I took my first loan in 2008 for Rs 8000 and used it to educate my children, as my husband was not earning enough to pay for school fees. I have had five loans from [Opportunity's partner] ESAF. I spend everything on my daughters’ education. Before the loans, it was not possible to educate my daughters.”
WHAT DO YOU DO TO EARN A LIVING?
Sikander: “My daughters used to travel to school in other autorikshaws. I was not earning much, so with my daughters I started this business. I purchased my auto in 2012 and have grown a successful business taking children to and from school. There are two other auto drivers in our village, but I don’t compete with them. People come to me because of my reputation, because I don’t take high fares, and if someone calls me at midnight, I help them. I earn Rs 500 per day [AUD$10.00], around Rs 12,000 per month.” [AUD$250.00]
WHAT SACRIFICES DID YOU HAVE TO MAKE TO FULFIL YOUR DAUGHTERS’ NEEDS?
Sikander: “To fulfill my daughters need for education I sacrificed most of my wishes. Before I used to eat well, but now I think that if I’m eating for my body, then how can I fulfill my daughter’s needs? I earn on a monthly basis but the money is often not sufficient, as our expenditure is very high with paying for education for four of our daughters. We try to save money to be used during the time of need. If I don’t have regular customers, the money that is in savings we have to lose to our expenses.”
Sindhu: “I don’t buy many clothes or sarees because my daughters need that money for school. I am fond of watching movies but I don’t go to the movies, I don’t buy bangles or necklaces. Whenever we didn’t have enough money, we parents saved our food for our daughters. Because my daughters had food, I slept as if I also had food along with them. I just drank water and that was enough for me.”
My desire for my daughters is that they not face the poverty that I have faced.
Sikander: “If my children ask for books and if there is no money, I cannot buy books for them. I feel embarrassed when I am not capable of buying those things that they need. My desire for my daughters is that they not face the poverty that I have faced.”
BEFORE YOU HAD CHILDREN, DID YOU HAVE A DIFFERENT OPINION ABOUT WHAT GIRLS SHOULD DO?
Sikander: “I had a desire for a baby boy, because boys are heirs of the family and given much importance. But that was my thinking earlier and it is wrong – we should treat both boys and girls equally. Boys and girls both should be given equal education so that they can stand on their own feet. I’m proud of my daughters and they do best in their lives.”
Sindhu: “People say ‘You have five daughters, but you never ask for money, and you are giving good education to your children and they eat good food and wear good clothes.’”
Sikander: “People do gossip about us, but I never mind their words. I have to focus on my own and my daughters’ lives. People do their work and we do our work.”
(TO THE GIRLS) WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT YOUR PARENTS?
Suhani (13): “The good things about my parents is that they help everyone. Their good deeds inspire me a lot. They have been cheated by people they helped but they never stopped doing good for others and they are genuine.”
WILL YOU TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR SISTERS?
Khushi (17): “They are my life and I cannot live without them. Sometimes I feel as if I have hurt them, but they love me so much. I love them but I cannot express it.”
Komal (23): “My sisters are my good friends. I tease them a lot and they shout at me, but the moments that I spend with them are some of the best moments that I cannot forget.”
Suhani: “My sisters are gifted with some special qualities that I want to implement in my life. Each one has different qualities, but they all have a friendly nature and a pure heart. My sisters inspire me.”
HAVE YOU EVER FELT SAD TO BE A GIRL AND NOT A BOY?
Komal: “Sometimes my parents feel like if we were boys we would be more happy. They feel sometimes that as girls we cannot cross boundaries, but boys can go anywhere and do wherever they what. So sometimes I feel like if we were boys, it would have been much better.”
Suhani: “No, I’m proud to be a girl. My father is never partial. He teaches us the meaning of equality.”
Komal: “I say, ‘Don’t worry Papa, now days boys and girls are equal, and if you support us we can also fly like the boys.’”
WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
Khushi: “When my results come and I top, that makes me the happiest person. I feel like I’m the most happiest person in this world.”
Komal: “When our family is together we all share stories – these moments give me a lot of happiness.”
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM?
Khushi: “My dream is to become a doctor because I have always had an interest to help people in need.”
Ruzail (24): “I want to become an entrepreneur and serve poor people who are incapable, like people in old age homes, children in orphanages and people who sleep on the streets. I want to give them a house and security and a place where they can get an education. I want to help them become something different.”
WHAT DO YOU DREAM OF FOR GIRLS IN THE FUTURE?
Khushi: “Even today in some states girls are not allowed to study and they are kept at home. Women should have the same rights as men. My wish is that all girls can come out from the cage and study well so they can show their talents.”
Even today in some states girls are not allowed to study and they are kept at home
Suhani: “I dream of the future where girls can study. Our leaders have done lot of things to make this better and we must try to build on that. Girls should be allowed to study because if they are permitted, they can become something great. I dream of the future where girls can explore for themselves.”
Ruzail: “I believe when you unlock the door for a girl they can lead the world.”
Disclaimer: The responses to these questions have been sourced from interviews between Opportunity staff and the Gondane family conducted in March 2019. Both the questions and responses were subject to translation; where necessary, the text included here has been edited for clarity and accuracy, while retaining the original meaning.