The atmosphere here is electrifying. Whoever has heard this good news is dancing with joy.
Thus opens a letter from Mina Das, Director of Nishtha, an AID partner in South 24 Paraganas District, West Bengal, writing to Ratna Day, NASA engineer and volunteer of AID in College Park for over 20 years.
Her letter continues:
Words will fall short to describe their happiness. Girls and mothers are calling me constantly to confirm this good news. I wish I could have shown you their abstract cheerfulness.
The enthusiasm of the Nishtha community is testament to the close connections that Ratna built when she visited every year.
Their excitement inspires AID volunteers to work toward the day when every girl has a fair chance to reach her dreams.
The rest of her letter follows:
Since yesterday I have attained more than fifty calls and still the count is on. Every time I receive their call, I myself feel very special; since it gives me the privilege to speak about my own Didi who has set a magnificent example of womanhood.
Here let me tell you what they have said;
Tumpa Chakraborty, a women group leader said, “Didi is the daughter of our soil and she has heard it from her childhood that girls are incapable. They only know what to eat and loaf about. Men in the community take us for granted and kick us out of the house whenever they like. But what you have done has set a great example for us. What you have achieved is a milestone which only one in one lakh can reach. Even our husbands’ have seen you and know you; so now whenever we would be insulted by our husbands we know what to say to them and how to make them embarrassed.”
Madhabi Adhikari, one of the leaders of a women’s group from Fingedhauri said, “Didi you are our pride. You have raised our heads with gratification. You have shown everybody what we are capable of. Didi this is just the beginning and there are miles to go. Pronaam!”
Saraswati Debnath (Mother of Vicky, Sinchan) said, “Didi I have taken your picture from Bor Di. Now we are rejoicing with your picture. I wish you were here with us. You have widened our chest with pride. Today we all are cherishing your victory.”
Shefali Naskar said, “Didi Congratulations on the amazing news! This is an incredible milestone and you deserve the spotlight to celebrate the moment.”
Jayanti Mondal said, “As you worked toward this victory, you behaved with such humility, grace and kindness to others. I appreciate how you always share your success with whoever is with you, and your love for your community is one of the reasons you rise to the top.”
Pampa Tiwari said, “Didi, cheers to you for a job well done! No one can compare to your creativity and passion, and it’s no surprise that you’ve become so successful.”
Didi, women here in this part of the world live in a very highly discriminative and insulting situation. The men dominating society believe we women are incapable and hardly have the ability to contribute to the society. We are treated as nothing but a burden but today women like you have continuously proved what we are capable of and what our worth is. What you have achieved is reward for every woman and it has erased all the stigma from our forehead.
Didi, you mean a lot to us all; we urge you to take special care of yourself and keep surprising us with your achievements.
With profound regards and lots of love,
AID supports Nishtha’s shelter for children at risk of sex trafficking and other forms of labor as well as empowerment programs for young women. During the pandemic years Nishtha has also distributed rations and facilitated access to health care to communities in need.