Everybody wants to go to the US either for further studies or employment but not many manage to reach there and if you belong to the section of underprivileged, then even dreaming would be an offence, but stereotype has been broken by the 19-year-old Ashwini, who has fulfilled her US dream with her determination, despite all adversities.  

“I’ve been running my whole life. When I was 5, I ran away from my mother who was a sex worker and used to beat me up black and blue only for something as trivial as losing her lipstick,” says Ashwini.

One of my earliest memories of her is when I was playing hide and seek with my friends in a building and by mistake, I pushed a row of bikes parked at the back and they all collapsed. The watchman locked us in the building and went to complain to our mothers, and then I saw my mother running towards me with a broom in her hand, screaming …I was so scared, I ran away as fast as I could.

At 8, she finally sent me to an NGO shelter home where I spent many years running from the teacher’s beatings. It was a Christian hostel, and if we didn’t follow even one of their rules we would be beaten and starved for days. My mother passed away during this time, so I took this abuse for 10 years because I didn’t know any better. A few of my friends, however, managed to run away to a place called Kranti which looks after girls like me…they told me of a better life and encouraged me to follow them.

I finally took the brave step of running away to them and that’s when my life changed. At Kranti, I had therapy every week and learned about art, dance, and other forms of therapy. After I learned all these things, I started volunteering to help other kids. My favorite activity is volunteering at Tata Memorial Hospital, where I bring art activities for children who are waiting for cancer treatment.

Together we do art projects that help the kids to express their fears, their problems, and their hopes. For the last two years, I traveled all of India, learning theater in West Bengal, attending photography class in Himachal, volunteering with NGOs in Gujarat, and working with Dalit communities in Delhi.

My experiences convinced me that I wanted to be an art therapist and spend my life helping others who found it difficult to express. I applied to New York University and got in with a big scholarship— my entire tuition is covered! For me, this was the biggest validation — that I could get into a college of my dreams, study what I love and make a difference all while the police is still running after me to drag me back to the hostel I ran away from. But I’m finally stopping to run. I’m finally finding peace and stillness within me and the hope of a better tomorrow… the hope of a second chance to live a different life and to finally just…be.”

Ashwini has managed to get a scholarship at New York University which covers her entire tuition but not her room, boarding and day to day expenses. Together, we can help her get a second chance by contributing to her college fund.

Please consider donating here –https://www.ketto.org/fundraiser/helpashwini



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