18-year old Neelam's resilience is an inspiration
Updated: Nov 21
SURPASSING ALL ODDS, SMILING WIDE:)
Aaiye sunte hain Neelam Ki Kahaani, #HumansOfShakti
This story is about our always-surprising teen Shakti, Neelam, whose story is an inspiration for most of us. In the heart of a humble community, where dreams are often whispered but seldom heard, Neelam resides in Chakkarpur, Gurgaon with her mother and brother. She and her family survive in the toughest living conditions, that you and I can only possibly imagine. She was born in a small town of Bihar, Ratwarand presently,
In a largely patriarchal society where the father is considered the sole breadwinner of the family, she grew up in adverse financial conditions as her mother managed to assume the role of both parents while working and earning for her family as a housemaid. It's not easy, huh? Her elder brother is a construction worker, hence, he is currently a big support for the family, income-wise. Together, they earn a modest monthly income of 8000 rupees, which makes it challenging to cover the daily household expenditures and Neelam's education expenses.
Despite the odds, Neelam and her family somehow manage to find strength and unity in life's ups and downs.
SARVAM SHAKTI IS HER SOURCE OF STRENGTH, JOY, AND HOPE - NEELAM SAYS
Neelam crossed paths with Sarvam Foundation in 2019. She has been a part of the Sarvam family for quite a few years now and has mastered her skills in yoga as well as dance, Kathak to be precise. Recently, during our Isckon Temple visit for a stage performance, Neelam mentioned, "Didi, I am so happy that using performance opportunities at various venues, we get a chance to visit wonderful places like Isckon. I love travelling and it would not have been possible if I was not a part of Sarvam. It is not just the training in classical dance, yoga, ethics, values, and other life skills that matter, but the environment. At Sarvam, we ensure that our young girl children, not only receive the important skills training but also find peace, happiness, togetherness, friendship, respect, warmth, and comfort, which are not so common in their day-to-day lives at home and school.
ENDURING BEDROCK OF SUPPORT FOR US
Sarvam Foundation's team and Neelam share a complementary relationship. She has played an instrumental role in helping us (the Sarvam team) smoothly take our organization's Sarvam Shakti project ahead. Right from helping Vjay Bhaiya maintain student records to assisting me with various office-related tasks, Neelam has always proved to be a gem. For Hemangi ma'am, Neelam is like her second daughter. They both share an inexplicable relationship of love and support.
TENACIOUS, CONSISTENT & PERSISTENT LEARNER
Mrs. Hemangi Bhatnagar and Bina Di have always watched Neelam grow up as a persistent and hardworking young girl.
Like other shakti students, Neelam also starts her day in the morning at around 5:30 AM, helping her mother with all the household chores. She cooks food, cleans her home, washes the dishes, and then leaves for her school. She is presently studying at Senior Secondary Government School, Chakkarpur, Gurgaon. Coming back from school, after some rest, she gears up for sarvam classes dressed in Sarvam Shakti uniform. At the Gurgaon Sarvam Centre, she consistently learns Yoga, meditation, and classical dance from 3 PM to 6 PM. Her perseverance, dedication, and learning appetite are beyond comparison.
Her go-getter attitude and all-time wide charming smile leave all of us in awe. Mrs. Hemangi says, "She is truly a golden heart, a pure soul, rare in today's world." Neelam is a
Neelam as a Leader
She has noted some significant improvements within herself after becoming a part of this family. Her leadership qualities have enhanced as well. Not only does she make sure that she is learning and acquiring new skills every day, but she also makes sure that her peers are making the most of this opportunity. In the absence of a mentor, she takes charge of tutoring the others and is rather a very strict tutor. She is a huge pillar of support for this foundation where she voluntarily takes the responsibility to ensure that every member is actively present and participating in all the events of the foundation due to which Sarvam Shakti's data can be regularly executed.
Her Proficiency in English
Being a student at a government school, where the English language is barely practiced, she finds it difficult to communicate in English and often feels anxious about it. But she refuses to give in to these feelings and rather takes it as a challenge that she must overcome by constantly trying to converse in English. With her mentors being her key support, she has started taking regular English classes at Sarvam to become fluent in this language. Her proficiency in spoken English has remarkably improved with her constant hard work after following her teacher's instructions at Sarvam Shakti for the past couple of months, boosting her self-confidence. Now she can speak fluent sentences such as "How are you?", "What are you doing?", "May I come in?" in English.
Bits and pieces of her best moments at Sarvam Foundation
She reminisces about her first stage performance after joining the Sarvam Foundation, a memory that continues to linger with her till the present day. Her first performance was in Vasant Kunj when she sang the song "Ae Vatan". She recalls how nervous and scared she felt.
With time, her stage fear, and the anxiety that she felt while presenting a performance have reduced a lot, and now she loves performing on stage which has become a source of happiness for her. She feels worried sometimes that the audience won't like her performance but at the same time, she expresses how her inner child lights up when people notice her hard work. Till now, in Sarvam Shaki she has actively participated in over 20 performances filled with diverse activities such as delivering speeches, engaging in dance as well as practicing yoga.
Upon inquiring, she recalled that her most cherished memory of Sarvam Shakti was from a recent event held on October 14, 2023, a memory that she'll forever cherish. The event was held at Apparel House, where they unveiled their dance performance on stage. The composition and execution of the performance went seamlessly. She, along with her fellow mates had shared a gala time. Her overall transformation has been profound.
Unleashing her hunger for her Passions with Sarvam Shakti
Sarvam Shakti has been a platform for her to explore and pursue multiple passions. She also has this unique ability to create beautiful mehandi designs and fill the palm with her creativity. She has used this skill of hers to earn money as well. All of this has been very beneficial for her. Very recently, on the auspicious occasion of 'Karwa Chauth' she went on to apply beautiful Mehandi designs on the palms of the females and has found a way to earn some amount of money as well.
Her fluency in yoga and dance has also made her an athlete which notably marks her strength and flexibility in sports. She has gained recognition for her participation in two distinct school races. However, she struggles to maintain her focus and dedication towards her studies but her optimistic nature constantly motivates her to work on improving her weaknesses.
Sarvam Shakti has helped her in bridging the gap between her desires and her financial barriers. She has been able to explore her passion in various disciplines such as spoken English, dance, yoga and so many more. She says that Sarvam Shakti offers a learning platform that transcends traditional home-based learning. All of this has very positively impacted her life, ensuring her overall well-being, and making her an exception among her peers.
The world through Neelam's eyes, Well, Neelam is not always Blue!
Neelam, a little girl with big ambitions, was once asked, "What will you do if you have superpowers?". To answer this question, she remarked that, if she's ever blessed with magical powers, she would dedicate them to reducing the largely existing gender discrimination in society, something that she has seen all through her life, and strive towards improving women's dignity. She believes in equitable treatment and does not support early or forced marriages.
She wants to make people aware by educating them on the diverse perspectives and the obstacles faced by women by using her own life as an example so that people can comprehend it better and encourage respect and equality for all. She wants to make this world a better place to live in.
Her Guardian Angels
Mrs. Hemangi Bhatnagar has emerged as a motherly figure, whose resilient nature has played an immensely significant role in being her role model. She has been immensely thankful to Bina Didi, Neha Didi, and Vijay Bhaiya who have been her steady source of motivation. Their constant guidance has taught her the lessons that she will cherish throughout her life.
Striving for a better tomorrow
Although she has so much more to learn and grow, her journey with Sarvam Shakti has been a rollercoaster ride for her, where she has been able to explore herself in a way that she has never imagined before. Overall, Neelam is a selfless soul filled with joy, empathy, politeness, and strong willpower. Her empathetic nature stretches out to every member of the foundation as she is always willing to listen as well as help others in whichever way possible and never fails to ensure that they too, like her, is carrying a smile on their face even if they are going through a hard time. She is growing and glowing more than ever. Her strong determination to learn has been helping her evolve every single day. If she continues to improve like this, then she might also have the potential to be posted as a teacher in a school just like the senior most batch of Sarvam Shakti, the Vasant Kunj batch, where the girls have been placed as teacher interns at Heritage School in Vasant Kunj. Her story has the power to change and inspire the lives of millions of people. She stands as the perfect example of the phrase, that " no matter how hard life is, there is always a door open for everyone".