For many students in the developed world, education can feel like an obligation. It is a means to get a job, to live on your own, to seek and gain success. For those in still developing countries, education is often seen as a privilege. Gender, economic status, geography, and safety for the poor, the marginalized, for females in India, are carefully calculated before education is viable.
According to the Statista Research Department, in 2002, only 6.7% of students enrolled in higher education in India were female. In 2009, the Right to Education Act increased the number of females enrolled in higher education. By 2015, still only 23.2% of enrolled college students were female. Many females never received the chance to move forward, and dropped out before completing elementary education. Discrimination against women, inadequate healthcare, and safety are challenges to accessing education.
For eleven young women who live on Back2Back’s Hope campus or are involved in the Strong Families Program in the city- a different path is being forged. Thanks to support from sponsorship and through diligent holistic care, they are now women in higher education. They are breaking familial patterns and setting foot on new trails.
January, 2020 was a pivotal moment for seven young women who grew up on Back2Back’s India Hope Campus. Following in the footsteps of three young men before them, they moved off campus to a hostel to attend Junior College.
The hostel provided shelter and food for the girls, but lacked what they were used to from life on campus. Their faithful and beloved caregivers were no longer with them each morning and night, providing family-style care. The hostel housed other girls in their same situation, meaning quiet space to study wasn’t easily accessible. The Back2Back staff serving the young women were over an hour away, providing minimal availability for natural conversation about growth, changes, and spiritual maturation.
When the pandemic hit India, the girls attended school remotely from their villages and received virtual tutoring from caregivers on campus. Staff fervently prayed through all the changes to find a way for greater impact with the students, while still helping them remain in their schools.
“We just wanted more connection with them,” shared Back2Back India Director, Julie Mowery. “Their growth is so important to us, and we felt disconnected as their phone time was limited in the hostel, and our visits weren’t as regular as we wanted.”
An answer to prayer came in the form of a large apartment owned by a Back2Back staff’s family member. The original seven Hope Education students recently moved into the apartment, along with two new students from the campus. “We are so excited to have this space,” shared Julie. “The apartment allows increased connection with the girls, allowing more involvement in their spiritual, emotional, and social growth. It also allows us to implement a curriculum called Overcoming Obstacles, teaching social-emotional skills, as well as daily living skills. .”
Two familiar faces joined the girls – their former caregivers, Lila and Nissi, who will be with them full-time. As everyone adjusts to a new living space, staff are hopeful they can influence and guide each young woman toward her future goals. With hands-on care, consistent mentoring, and the presence of Jesus, eleven young ladies break new ground and step beyond cultural expectations.