Shabby little attire and barefoot She was wandering across the streets, her eyes laid on alms. Selling balloons on the city streets and persuading every passerby with open arms. She was the fourth sibling and only daughter of the family. Born and brought up on the pavements of a bustling city, This is Sheetal Chakar from Nagpur.
Sheetal always dreamt if she could ride the bus to go to school, or wear those checkered skirts and crisp white blouses. The ribbons which would tie her hair into two beautiful braids, and the days at the traffic signals in the thick of dust, rain or chill would turn into careless innocent days. By the time she realized all her dreams can come true, she was 10!
It was a beautiful day when a group of socially enthusiastic youth came to talk her and few of her friends. The stories they heard, and toys they played with and the sweets they ate were the best till date. The happy kids went back to their roadside tents as the sun went down never hoping to see their Bhaiiyyas again! To their surprise, Bhaiiyya showed up again the next day, with some slates and chalk. Not knowing what the Black and White thing has to do with, Sheetal started scribbling all over the surface when a suddenly she wanted to write her name on the black slate. She asked Bhaiiyya if he could teach her write name. After learning certain strokes, she could write shi-ta-la in Hindi. Excited, she ran as hurriedly as she could to show it to her mother and came back dancing!
After learning the basics at Footpathshaala, she was enrolled into full time school where she continued her secondary education. The journey of school was not as easy as she dreamt of. She had difficulty in understanding the languages, solving complex mathematics. It was a great achievement for the mentors when Sheetal reached class tenth but not a cake-walk. There was even a time, when she was losing interest in studies, because it was no fun anymore! But the eagerness to try new things and longing to break through the poverty-stricken situation which made her work hard and gave us the first student from Footpathshaala to clear class tenth board examination!
She gives the credit of her success to the team of fifteen mentors who stood by her, day in and out and ensured she keeps well with the curriculum. The choice that she has made for herself proves no matter how worse the conditions are, if you’ve desired and can walk beyond boundaries, you can conquer your goals!