2024 News

Celebrating Women like Ashwini

Tuesday, 5 March 2024

Ashwini invited Danny and Smita to visit her home in the slums of Mumbai, India. Walking past the makeshift dwellings, they saw many children playing in the dirty streets. Ashwini wanted to show Danny and Smita all the children who were not at school. Danny remembers thinking, “Is there something we can do for them?”

Danny and Smita Gaikwad are from Hosanna Ministries, one of Global Mission Partners’ Relief and Development partners. They first met Ashwini when she enrolled in the Hosanna Ministries tailoring course. She has since joined the Hosanna Ministries team as one of the project coordinators.

Ashwini knows what it is like to grow up in the slums. She shared how common it is for girls not to attend school. They stay home with their mothers, learning domestic skills and they might enter an arranged marriage as young as 15-years-old. “The community focuses on the boys' education. Girls are not important. Boys can then go on to join their father’s business or labour work,” Ashwini said.

Unlike many of the children playing among the rubbish, Ashwini received an education. “My parents were very supportive and encouraged me to attend school,” Ashwini said.

When asked what might happen to the children on the streets, she described their future: “If they are not learning, then their future is blank.”

Ashwini loves learning. That is why she enrolled in the tailoring course at Hosanna Ministries. Ashwini learned new skills to sew garments for weddings. This skill now provides her with a small income. “I’m using that money for my future education.” Ashwini no longer relies on her parents for financial support. 

Ashwini dreams of further education but also wants to further education for others. With the support and guidance of Danny and Smita, Ashwini has started a preschool! Ashwini specifically says, "The education of girls is very important.”

The Little Pumpkin Preschool began in Ashwini’s home in 2019. When COVID restrictions eased, she rented a small room in the community. Danny and Smita helped Ashwini renovate the “shabby” interiors. Children no longer play aimlessly on the streets because they can attend Ashwini’s preschool. “As they grow, we will counsel their parents. To help encourage them to continue their children’s education in local schools,” Danny reports. 

Ashwini's education has motivated her to assist other children, especially girls. She accessed guidance, resources, and skills through Hosanna Ministries. With that support, Ashwini has become a role model in her community, setting an example for her family and friends.

On International Women's Day (IWD), we celebrate women like Ashwini and partners like Hosanna Ministries, who support the inclusion of women within their projects. The theme of IDW 2024 is ‘Inspire Inclusion.’

Ashwini’s story reminds us of the special role that women play in creating a better world. Her journey can inspire other women to participate in education, empowerment, and community support, to create positive change and transform lives.

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