Punam Vanjari comes from a tribal hamlet of Nevalpada located in the interior part of Taluka Wada. She belongs to a farming family and is the eldest of 3 siblings. They own a small piece land (less than an acre). Punam did her schooling (up to the 4th grade) in a Zilla Parishad school at Nevalpada, higher primary school (7th Grade), at Kelthan and her secondary schooling at SG Patil Vidyalaya in Kelthan Village around 2.5 km away. After her schooling, her father instructed her to discontinue higher education and partake in farming & household work.
However, Punam had a strong desire to continue her studies and complete her graduation. She confronted her father to which he ultimately obliged, granting permission for further study. Although, for the next 5 years Punam walked 5 km to her college every day (Vajreshwari) and completed her degree in Arts (2014). She is the first girl from Nevalpada to complete her graduation. She wanted to pursue her postgraduation, but due to her father’s poor financial condition, she could not do so.
After the Edelgive Foundation initiated support in 2015-16 through the ELDP, LSF was able to involve educated rural girls as trainee facilitators. All 15 girls were from the neighbouring villages and were looking for an opportunity to earn a livelihood. This support enabled LSF to gainfully employ them and helped support their future education whilst providing financial help to their families.
With this stipend, Punam started saving money for course fees and was able to make herself financially independent throughout her training to become a policewoman.
Years in ELDP
Punam was allotted two villages Nevalpada and Lohope. After a tentative start, she started to enjoy her work and was overwhelmed with the response received from kids. It was sentimental for her to return to her own school while teaching kids in affiliation with the same teacher who once taught her.
As the year progressed, Punam’s dedication and progress were evident from the positive reviews received from the school teachers, ELDP supervisors and Muktangan trainers.
Life after ELDP
Punam feels that she is more confident, expressive and independent after joining ELDP. Though her main intention was to support her family and to educate her siblings, her perspective has now changed. She senses that she is an asset to children’s lives and is also well-respected amongst her family because of her work. This has led to Punam and her mother being excused from farming chores and household work, respectively. Consequently, she has chosen to pursue a Master’s degree in History and English. In January 2018, on completion of her training, she was selected as a police constable.
LSF commends her progress and growth both individually and as a member of the wider rural community.