It’s a saying that every person is born with a talent, we must identify and nourish our capabilities to shine. Some people develop their artistic skills and reserve them as their vocational interests; on the other hand, some people listen to their hearts and make their passion as a profession. This is one such story of a girl who sharpened her musical talent along with academics.

13-year-old, Muskaan, lives in village Palri, Haryana. From a young age, she developed interest in music and showed signs of becoming a child prodigy. She comes from a family of eight members where her father is the sole bread earner and used to work as an oil tank driver. Unfortunately, her father was diagnosed with leprosy last year which brought the entire financial load on her homemaker mother.

Muskaan’s academic progress was only limited to attending the mosques for gaining spiritual knowledge. In recent years, she started attending full-time school but met with disinterested teachers and unruly fellow classmates which often resulted in physical fights. Most of the girl students used to face eve-teasing in schools which brought a sense of fear in their young hearts.

A ray of hope entered Muskaan’s life when she joined Ballika Manch, an initiative that started in her school.

Ballika Manch gave a platform to Muskaan. She got herself enrolled in Bhojan Samiti (Food Committee) and actively took part in it. They also recognized her musical talent and encouraged her to recite her nazms in the morning assemblies. Initially, Muskaan was very hesitant in reciting her poems in front of the audience but with constant encouragement and insistence from Ballika Manch and her peers, she started reciting nazms and patriotic songs. Since then, she has recited poems more than a dozen of times in morning assemblies.

Muskaan’s insecurities have slowly reduced. Her teachers have started taking a keen interest in explaining concepts in class. Continuous education and Ballika Manch has ensured that the girls don’t get into any physical fights anymore. They also gave a platform to Muskaan to express her fears in the Activity Learning Centers. Her mother has been made a member of the School Management Committee and a mid-day meal cook.

Earlier Muskaan kept her ideas and feelings to herself. Ballika Manch provided her a way to channelize her thoughts towards music, poetry, lyric writing and nazms. For about three to four years, Muskaan has kept a journal in which she used to scribble her poetry and nazms. Initially, these poems were only about her religious beliefs but with the help of Ballika Manch, Muskaan has evolved her writing for girls’ education, gender equality, self-dignity and friendship. She has also started composing music for her poems. Lyrics writing and composing have brought a sense of confidence and realization that she can pursue her passion professionally. Her music has a sense of originality and uniqueness. She refers to YouTube videos for music tutorials though her own mobile phone. Now, Muskaan actively participates in the school and village community.

This story proves an old saying that, “faith can move mountains”. Muskaan kept her faith strong. She kept her faith in her religion, her school, Ballika Manch, her parents, her music and above all in herself. In the near future, she hopes her school becomes a Senior Secondary School so that she can pursue her studies further. She aspires to become a singer and perform in front of a huge audience.  Such inspiring and moving stories makes us believe that no matter what the circumstances are, no matter what how harsh life has been upon us, an individual with focus and dedication can make a huge difference.

Be The Change aims to strengthen girls’ leadership skills so that they can make informed choices and lead dignified lives. We directly engage with eight KGBVs and 40 upper primary government schools to create a conducive environment within and outside the schools to support girls’ leadership building and education initiatives.

Aayyush Mehta