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Name: Mansi Shelke (14 years old)

Meet 14 year old Mansi Shelke who shifted from Pachora, a small village in Jalgaon district to Saki Naka, Andheri (East) 15 years ago. Most of her family members were dependent on agriculture, farming, and daily wage work for their livelihoods, but due to drought and other financial constraints, they decided to shift to Mumbai for better employment opportunities. Her father, an alcohol addict, is a daily wage worker, while her mother works as a housemaid. Much of the responsibilities rest on her mother as she has to provide, take care of the family members and also cater to the educational expenses. Her elder sister is currently appearing for her H.S.C. (12th Std.) exams while her younger brother is in the 7th Std.

With a dream of becoming a choreographer or an anchor, Mansi always wanted to study further. However, given the very low family income and socio-economic background of her family, it was very difficult. During this time, Mansi heard of the Girl Child Education program organised by Mumbai Smiles through mobilisation initiatives conducted with students and school teachers. Under this initiative, Mansi was selected to receive a scholarship to study in school. She is now pursuing her 10th Std. (S.S.C.) studies and is committed to make a difference in her life and the lives of her family members.

Under the Girl Child Education initiative, Mansi attended various capacity building workshops that emphasised on time management, stress management, and goal setting. Mansi was very shy and it was extremely difficult for her to adjust to the happenings of the city. However, after attending these workshops, she developed courage and self-esteem over a period of time. These sessions helped her gain self confidence and positive thinking towards life. Mansi was also selected to attend a UNICEF workshop and a book launch on opinion poll project that Mumbai Smiles, UNICEF and NineIsMine had carried out together, called ‘Play it Safe’, where she gave a speech and addressed the guests.  “I was very shy and could not interact with other people but after attending UNCIEF workshop, I am now more confident and comfortable with public speaking too. This workshop was very informative and it motivated me to continue my education”, she says. She has also participated in various school competitions and has anchored for her school’s annual function, a good start to her chosen career, we feel!

We shifted to Mumbai in search of better living but being from a rural background, it was very difficult for me to adjust in the city of Mumbai. Also, my father is an alcoholic and we always had arguments and fights in the family, which affected me a lot. I became very shy and was average at studies. But Mumbai Smiles changed my life and I realised the importance of education. Mumbai Smiles helped me by providing financial assistance, by paying my school fees and by way of all the extra-curricular sessions they hold on various topics that has helped me build a better personality for myself.  It helped me holistically, so much that a shy girl like me, who never thought of her future, is now dreaming to become an Anchor or a Choreographer! I can only thank them. They help not just financially but holistically and I hope they continue doing this for many other girls to help them pursue their dreams and live a dignified life too!”, says Mansi.

It is our pleasure to have you as part of our big Mumbai Smiles family and we wish you all the success in your future endeavours!


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