A friend indeed: How Sakhi's Aarti Naik is ensuring an education for girls living in slums

In a small chawl in Mulund, a north-eastern suburb of Mumbai, Aarti Naik is working towards bringing about change.

In 2011, when Naik was just a 19-year-old in Class 12, she had already decided what she wanted to do with her life. She had a dream of imparting education to the girls of her community, and thus began ‘Sakhi For Girls Education’.

Naik’s personal struggle lead to her initiative. She had to drop out of school after Class 10 because of her family’s financial constraints, but was determined to finish her education. She took on odd jobs that paid her way through school and college. Aware that many other girls face similar problems, Naik took on the responsibility of educating girls in her community.

A ‘Changemaker Fellowship’  from the Ashoka Youth Venture gave her the financial aid to start her social venture. She also worked part-time as a telephone operator to make enough to fund her own college education and buy some stationary for the girls she was teaching.

But money wasn’t the only factor. She had to take time out of her busy college schedule to teach the girls. She went door-to-door to encourage girls to come and learn.

Now nine years down the road, Aarti has reached more than 400 girls and hopes to bring that number to a thousand in the next five years.

Going beyond just imparting education to the girls of her community, Aarti also started a school for their mothers where she teaches them to read and write Marathi, Hindi and English. She has also started a Girl’s Book Bank. Here, five girls are selected as leaders, and each leader goes door to door distributing books. Apart from these leaders, she also has volunteers who help with the distribution of books. Through the book bank, Aarti reaches out to another 350 girls.

Sakhi, which translates to a 'beloved friend', is what Aarti is to the girls of her community. You can find out more about her organisation here.

Updated Date: Aug 04, 2017 12:59 PM

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