|The Rebirth of Shahana|
MS. Shahana K.T, 28 years old, hails from Mannardkad- a remote village in the outskirts of Malappuram district bordering with Palakkad district. She belongs to an orthodox Muslim family, and is the eldest daughter of a bank manager. Her Mother had an early marriage at the age of 10. Shahana has a younger brother who is an engineering graduate and a younger sister who is a graduate.
Everyone who knew Shahana in school, remember her as a shy, reserved girl. As per the customs of her family, Shahana was also married off quite early at the age of 16. Shahana had just completed her matriculation then. Somehow Shahana pursued her studies after marriage and completed an Advance Diploma course in computer application.
Her husband established a computer centre but it was not giving good returns. They ventured into the Akshaya project when it was launched in the district in 2004. Slowly business picked up. Shahana’s husband moved to the Gulf to earn more money. But after some months, things changed.
“My Husband, returned from the Gulf and we suddenly found ourselves in severe financial loss. I had no voice in my husband’s house. My daughter was sick and, I couldn’t even tell him or the other family members to buy medicines for her“, Shahana shudders as she relives those days.
Shahana realized that she had to do something. She had heard about the Intel Learn Program being implemented in the Akshaya Centres. On the insistence of the ILP trainer, she attended the Intel Learn Staff training Program held at Kadavu resort in July 2004, and Shahana’s life changed for ever. She remembers the staff training as the turning point in her life. The program helped her to come out of her shell. “At the age of 24 I learnt to talk to others. I learnt to express my views in a confident manner. It was like I was reborn”, giggles Shahana.
“I realized that I could also do something to earn money for my family, a rare thing for a woman from my background”, says Shahana. The positive attitude that the program instilled in her has changed her outlook and perspective. “O god! Imagine the shy Shahana talking to the headmasters of neighboring schools and convincing parents to send their children for ILP”, everyone was in awe of her transformation.
Shahana now organizes regular ILP batches; she meets people confidently and advises them on various issues. She testifies that through the acquaintance that she has with children of different ages who come for ILP, she has come to realize the innate potential of her own children. “My children think I am a better mother now than what I was earlier”, beams Shahana.
She ensured that her elder daughter could also enroll for ILP training.
“I wanted my daughter to get an advantage over others”, commented Shahana on why she insisted in giving the program to her own child. “The program helped my daughter in developing technical skills. More importantly, it gave her skills of planning, collaborating, reviewing and showcasing her ideas. These are skills that will serve her for a lifetime”
The once shy Shahana is now a role-model for many in her community. She encourages people to send their daughters for higher education and not to get them married off before they turn 18. She gives her own example as she tells her community that even women can contribute to the family income. People approach her for career guidelines for their children and even for solving family problems.
“My husband now asks for my opinion while planning for the future. I plan my household things together with my husband. They way people interacted with me earlier has completely changed. I can now see the respect in their eyes. Thanks to ILP”, says a proud Shahana as she comes out of her house, which is aptly named as “Baithul Noor” meaning the Abode of Light.