12-year-old Jyoti Ramji Parmar and 11-year-old Sherbano Kasambhai Aamda are hailed as the poster girls of Rupenbander village in Dwarka district of Gujarat. Supported by CRY, the two girls, through their singing and public speaking skills have been advocating the

importance of education and receiving accolades for the same.

They have been relentlessly pursuing the cause of advocating the need for education in children. Meet 12-year-old Jyoti Ramji Parmar and 11-year-old Sherbano Kasambhai Aamda, both students of Rupenbandar Primary School, Rupenbander village in Dwarka district of Gujarat.

A class 7 student, Jyoti’s class teacher first showed her the song originally in Hindi in her mobile phone two years ago. around the importance of girls and has empowering words such as ‘Jinki hai Betiya, woh yeh kehte hai, Pariyon ke desh me, who to rehte hai, Ghar ko jannat ka naam dete hai.’

She further wrjyotiote it down and translated in Gujarati for Jyoti to practice it regularly thereby working on building her confidence. “My teacher told me that I had a very good voice and that I can become a very good singer,” says Jyoti who first performed this song in CRY’s Child Rights and You’s e
vent Balmela earlier this year with confidence. Bal Mela initiated by CRY and its partner in Gujarat, Gramya Vikas Trust (GVT) support is an initiative where a group of children play, discuss and share their thoughts, problems, issues and skills together.

“I practice everyday for an hour in school and at home. I follow singing programmes on television and try to learn from them too,” she says further adding that her friends praise her singing skills and say that she has very good voice.

“My friends tell me they feel good and proud when they hear me singing. They are also proud of the fact that I am their friend. They are inspired by my songs and want to be like me,” says Jyoti who has a 13-year-old brother and comes from a family of modest means, her father being a fisherman with an annual income of Rs 28,000.

Jyoti regularly sings in community programmes, school and children group events like Bal Mela and on special occasions like Independence Day etc. “I want to finish my education and become a good singer when I grow up,” she says.

Similarly 11-year-old Sherbano Kasambhai Aamda too has been advocating the need for both boys and girls to finish education through her public speaking. Sherbano, also a student of Class 7 of Rupenbandar Primary school has six siblings (three sisters and two brothers) and comes from a poor family (her father is also a labourer whose annual income is around Rs 20,000.)

Despite the poverty, Sherbano is determined to educate not only herself but also others and this is the message that she is spreading through her speeches in public places like community gatherings, schools events etc. It was during a school enrolment drive programme that Sherbano’s skills came to the fore. The school keen on admitting more girls and roped in Sherbano for the drill.

Sherbano’s teacher well aware of her public speaking skills presented her with a speech on why education is important for the girl child and helped her in practicing it well. Sherbano delivered the speech which was well received by the community members who asked her to repeat it several times. Soon Sherbano was creating awareness in the communities in the surrounding villages too where she got a standing ovation from the children who heard the speech. Since then, Sherbano has been reciting the speech and spreading awareness in community on education. Interestingly Sherbano practices her speech with expressions, sound voice and confident body language by downloading speech technique videos from internet. She claims following them has made her more confident and smart. Sherbano’s claims her teacher is her main inspiration as she helped her practice it well.

“My friends say that I have the courage for public speaking. They feel very good when they see me speaking on stage. They often tell me that I should become a leader! They always cheer and support me,” says Sherbano who continues that she wants to become a scientist like Dr APJ Abdul Kalam after watching the Hindi film ‘I Am Kalaam’ at the Bal Mela event.

Jyoti’s teacher Nayanaben Amreliya says of her, “She is very good in studies and singing. The other teachers and I gave her an opportunity to sing bhajans and songs in school. We also helped her practice singing due to which she is now performing at different places and getting rewards. If she is given proper training then she will use her potential to grow and shine. She could become very good artist and singer of India. She is the pride of our school. We hope someone supports her talent and helps her to grow to become a good singer and an artist.”

Amereliya who is also Sherbano’s teacher states that Sherbano is very clever girl in her school. “My colleagues have supported her. She was good in speaking from childhood. We told her stories of renowned personalities. We helped her in public speaking, how to speak and corrected her when she made mistakes. We guided her on use of correct words for proper pronunciation. She is very receptive and good in speaking. She has delivered her speech at different places and has made our school famous. We are proud of her. She wants to become a scientist and we wish her dream comes true.”

Headmaster of the school Ankurbhai B Jaiswal says of the two girls, “Jyoti and Sherbano are very bright, clever and talented. They both from poor backgrounds—like lotus flowering in the middle of the pond. We are always active and trying for their development. If they are given good opportunity then they can become good singer and speaker respectively.”

Kumar Nilendu, GM, Development Support, CRY –West says, “It is overwhelming to know that government teachers are taking extra efforts for educating children specially girls in areas other than academics. We should applaud them.”

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