The Bees HiVE – fabricating lives
These are all women, who have dared to take a path which is different from the ways of the village society…
Starting from the ‘Queen Bee’, the first on the left Isha Mahendroo Pompignat, teacher of a government school in Paris, France. She has extended her official leave year after year to pursue the cause of teaching women and children in the rural areas of Chamba and Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. She’s thrown her job, family, friends for the love of meaningfully accomplishing her vocation for teaching, with never thought about her own financial comfort or family back in France. Happy in her work .. she’s the inspiration for all the girls… who idolise the ‘Madam’ and it is indeed funny sometimes to see the all of them turning out with the same hair style because ‘Madam’ had done up her hair in that manner..
Second from Left, is Rashmi, adopted into her uncle’s family because her father had thrown her mother out of the house. The mother re-married, unhappily again a victim of abuse when her second husband tried to burn her. At last Rashmi was taken in by her uncle.. She left going to school after 10th class, but continues her education as a private candidate. She is now in 12th and came second in our tailoring school, which she did along the computer course from here, while at the same time trained as a library assistant. Now she manages the library sessions in the village primary school… a jewel of a girl and cheerful as a bird.
Third one from the left is Rekha, born and married in what is considered as a lower caste in the mountains.. She could not work like the other women in the villages (because of a medical constraints). She was always considered as, ‘not good for anything’, and joined the centre to learn tailoring. Even before she completed half the course we realised that she was a gem of a person and started training her as a teacher for our new centre in Talai village… She is one of those students who is disappointed whenever there is a holiday, walks 12 kms back and forth from her house to our centre and has gained so much respect of the people around her by her hard work and sincerity that it was not even thought odd that she should be invited to the upper caste houses for tea or a meal.. and this in an area which is still quite conservative.
The fourth from left is Vandana.. she attended school only till 7th class. Her father’s a drunkard and mother a schemer who always wanted the good things in life without doing any honest work. When she joined our course as a student three years back, Vandana was already considered as the seamstress of the village and it was not considered possible that we could teach her much.. But she happily came to the classes telling everyone that there was always more to learn.. Her cheerful disposition and a simple attitude of doing what she thought was right inspired all those around her. After the course, she underwent training to be a teacher and even though she got married a year ago and has one son now.. she comes all the way from her husband’s house (20 Kms away) to the centre with her child, to work. In the village belief, it is considered bad to take the child out of the house at least for the first 6 months after birth. But she laughingly convinced her family and her husband that what she was doing is respected and brings them respect too… Which is the truth because wherever she goes, people compliment her, on her well stitched dresses and proudly she tells them that she learnt it at the ‘Khudgoth Tailoring School’.. Ah.. she’d be the pride of any school!
The last one from left is Anita.. married at an early age, when she was barely out of school. She was quite depressed at her childhood being snatched away. Being of a delicate nature she was allowed to join our centre, since she could not do the heavy work required of women in the village. She too did her tailoring course and her computer course from here. After having undergone two miscarriages she finally gave birth to a child last year and then, her parents-in law refused to send her to the centre to work because the child was too small…. She rebelled and moved away from her their house and took a room on rent near the centre… You can imagine the waves it caused in the village, where a woman could not dare to rebel like this and leave her husband to continue her job.. My god! NO one can imagine the inner strength of this woman, for so frail a person! Today she is happily learning to handle the stock registers, accounts and book-keeping for our centres. And of course with her family’s blessings…!!