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My Personal Journey of Self-discovery and Transformation

I am Usha, a tribal girl from Bagaha, West Champaran, Bihar. My parents are illiterate, daily wage earners and work as agrarian labours to meet our basic needs. My parents are not able to support financially for my education but my strong desire for education has inspired them to forget many deprivations in life and stand by me. I am very glad to share the experiences of my personal growth and transformation here.

I have been a beneficiary of the Patna Jesuit social action programmes for the poor since 2004. The first opportunity to pursue my dream was realised when I was admitted to Sewa Sadan, Ratanpurwa, for the special education programme for girls from the marginalised communities. There, I completed my matriculation through NIOS. I was so happy that I could pass matriculation in a few years’ time, without attending formal schooling and that too in first division.

After the matriculation I didn’t think that I could continue my further studies. But by the grace of God I was called to join READ family as a member of Long Residential Training in 2012 by Fr. Joseph Sabastian S.J. This is the place where my life got transformed as a new being. Since then, I have completed I. Sc and BSW and at present I am preparing for the BA final year exam in economic honors. I consider myself very fortunate and privileged to have this immense opportunity to be with the Jesuits and their special human resource building programme.

The last six years in READ has been a great spiritual experience for me. Here, in READ I realised the true identity and value of my life. I have been liberated from fear, negativity and superstitious beliefs. In the atmosphere of freedom, positivity and well-being, I feel free to articulate myself. The training here has helped me a lot to bring out my desires, aspirations and dreams. It has filled me with such joy, enthusiasm and vigour, that I am able to travel many miles of my life’s journey with hope and dignity. I have received here the important art of self-respect, self-esteem, self- discipline and positive outlook towards oneself and others.

The training here has further enabled me to uphold human, secular and democratic values and cultivate scientific temper, which in turn has helped me immensely to grow in freedom and maturity. Conscientisation and critical reflection are integral to our curriculum here. I value and cherish the opportunity I get to reflect, discuss and speak on important issues based on the socio- political and economic issues that affect our life. This helps me to have an independent mind. Now I am able to evaluate critically the socio political and economic situations based on the constitutional norms and values.

Today I have come to cherish my freedom of mind. I am freed from utter ignorance or just conforming myself to whatever elders, community leaders or religious leaders would say. I am very happy that I am able to know my feelings, recognize my weakness and try my best to lead myself in a proper way. Now I am able to express myself freely without any hesitation. When I look back, I feel that a miracle has happened in my life. I used to regard myself poor, incapable and useless but today I see myself as a dignified person. I am proud of what I am. I have become an example for many more marginalized and poor children like me to send their children to the school.

Altogether I can say READ has moulded me into new beings with new political, social consciousness, identity, purpose, values and vision. I cannot forget the valuable contribution of the Jesuit fathers, brothers and many other sisters who have sweated their blood to polish my personality. Their genuine love, care and concern have made me to feel as if I was their child. For all these wonderful experiences of my life I would like to profoundly thank each and every one of them.

My journey is not complete. In fact, it has just begun. I must guard the light that is within me. And I have learned that I can only guard that light by reaching out to the neglected and the needy wherever I may be or whoever I become. May God give me the strength to continue this journey.

- Usha Kumari

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