Happy Mother’s Day for all the mommies out there! For this special occasion, we would love to put some of the mothers working on the O My Bag collection in the spotlight!
Meet Jinnat! She is 35 years old and has been working at EMA for the past 10 years. She has two children that she loves to take care of. Her 18-year-old daughter goes to Business School, and her 19-year-old son is a Science graduate. Jinnat is very proud to be able to put her children through school, being a single mother this is a real achievement. She loves cooking very much. Her favorite dish is paysh, a sweet dessert made of milk, rice and sugar.
This cute couple is Akram and Shahnaj Kahn who both work and live at Patrick’s tannery. Patrick spotted Akrram as a good and hard working man when he worked as a security man in the previous leather complex. When that closed and Patrick and all other tanneries moved to the new complex, he asked if Akrram wanted to work in his tannery as a concierge. What Patrick didn’t realize was that Akrram and his wife Shahnai are inseparable.
She was always with her husband, so Patrick and Veronica decided to give her a job in the tannery too. If we ask the people in the tannery to describe Shahnaj they tell us she’s a busy lady that can’t sit still. She is responsible for all the maintenance at the tannery, and she’s always running around. They have one son who works in a restaurant in Bahrain. They see him once every two years. They like being parents, to bring up a little boy and make him independent. In addition to that Shahnaj also mentions she is happy to know that he can take care of them when they grow older.
Shanhaj has a passion for traveling. Her husband has promised her that he will take her to Shillong one day. They’ve been to Bombay before, but she’s sure that that’s nowhere close to the beauty of Shillong. Her must-see advice for Kolkata is the Victoria Memorial.
Padma has been working at STC for the last 8 years as a finishing lady. She has a daughter and a son. Her children went to a private school. Families that can afford it send their children to private schools, because the government schools until date do not offer the proper education and facilities, and are therefore seen as poor education. She loved sitting with her children when they were doing homework. Padma’s dream is that her kids can do office work when they grow up. She herself is very interested in computers and would love to learn to work with those.
Speaking to mothers, and the dreams they have for the future of their sons and daughters makes us think: “Are those dreams realistic for most families? Isn’t it that a lot of girls are not sent to school?”
From the back of the yellow cab, there is so much to see on the streets of Kolkata. One thing that was not there before, is the number of billboards throughout the city promoting female child education. We are told that this all has to do with the project of the Chief Minister of West Bengal, the state in which Kolkata is situated; Mamata Banerjee. The project ‘Kanyashree Prakalpa’ is initiated to empower young women with education.
Government schools in India are free, so why are there still so many children that are not going to school? For many of the families below the poverty level, girls are often responsible for part of the income of their family. In the hours that she would attend school classes, she could’ve worked as for example a maid or cleaner and earn money. Also, girls tend to drop out more often than the boys, because they get married at a young age.
The Kanyashree scheme aims at ensuring that girls do not drop out of school and delay their marriages until at least the age of 18. The families receive an annual incentive of 750 rupees during the years that she goes to school, and a one-time grant of 25.000 rupees (about 330 euros) that will be paid after the girl turns 18. It’s hard for us Dutchies to understand that this is the way to motivate families to send their children to school, but it is also very understandable given the situation that these families are in.
In June 2017 Ms. Banerjee received the highest public service award from the UN for this great project, that has already helped more than 4 million female students in the state. This is a real achievement and we are happy to learn that education and with that dreams for their future are becoming more realistic to achieve.