Story of Farida

From congested suburb to national level representation--- Farida’s journey says all farida1Farida  Bano  was not even her teens, when her entire family shifted to North 24 Parganas from  Uttar Pradesh. In Farida’s family, there was no history of passing out even 10th standard. According to her, “ In UP people used to send their boys to gulf countries for meager work.”  For girl child, faith is sealed as soon as they are born. Early marriage was the only option they left with. Farida won’t be an exception as well. farida2But her faith turned when their whole family came to West Bengal for a relative’s wedding. Only then her parents especially her mother realized that early marriage and odd jobs could not be an option for their children. They decided to settle down in Kamarhati, West Bengal. By the time she came to know about SPAN from her relatives and neighbor. She decided to join SPAN. At that tender age Farida with other children of the area, formed Eksath group. In 2004 Farida enrolled in class IV. Her education and social work were going on simultaneously. Their Eksath group started organizing social issue drama, ecological as well as educational awareness program in the area. The children group even published a magazine called Expression. “We started our campaign by giving tuitions to younger students. We prepared them for class I admission. As soon as they got prepared, didi (SPAN representative) initiated their process of admission to regular schools”, said Farida. farida3When Farida formed the group, there were only 15 students. But within 1 year, students count went to 30. Nowadays, there are more than 200 students. With SPAN’s initiative Farida and few of her friends started participating in National Level conferences and programs as well. In 2006 Farida and another member from her group participated in World Social Forum. She participated on behalf of Campaign Against Child Labour or CACL as one of the child representatives. Out of 22 states she was selected for the final rounds held in Delhi and got a chance to speak out her mind about childhood problems in her area. After 2006, Farida went to CACL program again in 2009. In 2014, she participated in TDH organized program on ecological rights in Bangalore. Every month she visits at least one or two district for campaign and conferences. Now Farida Bano is the secretary of Umeed, the youth resource centre in Kamarhati. Do you feel nervous on stage? She quips, “Though I attend many conferences and programs, still I feel nervous sometime”.   . Throughout these years, with SPAN by her side, she wants to instill values into every girl in her society. Now Farida’s only dream is to change the thought process of girls and women and make them self dependent. To some extent, she is successful as well. “Till few years back the common practice of our area was to send girls to school only till 12th grade. After that they would get married. Now, girls are used to go for higher studies.” Though Farida thinks, there are more areas to change, “Till now women think their work or education is secondary. Their only job is cooking and serving food to family members. If they want to change their lives, they have to change their thoughts first. This is where I want to work”, asserts Farida. Farida never eats non-veg except egg. She is against any kind of animal or bird killing. She only wears scarf  not  burqa. She is the first girl from her family who went to school. Now her siblings also follow Farida’s footsteps.   13533205_1769472583295356_8458179412527201208_n From a shabby area of Kamarhati, Farida is representing the downtrodden children of West Bengal. Hope she would be able to achieve her dream in near future. Good Luck Farida.