Features Friday, September 05, 2014 - 05:30
The News Minute | September 4, 2014 | 07:21 am IST "I am very excited and happy. I am a bit nervous as well but it feels all so different", says Sheetal who recently got admitted to a music school in Washington DC where she will soon pursue her passion: drumming.  For 20-year-old Sheetal, her admission is no mean feat. She was born in Kamathipura, one of Mumbai's oldest and Asia's largest red light districts. Born to a sex-worker, Sheetal's life began on a very tough note.  "I lived with my mother initially. By my life changed after I came to Kranti in 2012", she says. Kranti is an NGO that works towards educating and empowering girls from Mumbai's red-light areas.  Sheetal's interest in drumming stemmed from one of the activity classes that Kranti conducts regularly. "I loved the drumming classes and I use to enjoy it a lot. Right from when I was a small kid, I have always been attracted to beats, from drums or even from the dhol which is played locally in many places". Before applying in the US, Sheetal tried her luck in India and the UK as well. In India, most music schools accept students who have a passed Standard 12. "I am not a Std 10 pass", she says. That is because, she never had a normal schooling session since when she was a child. But she now takes courses in various subjects and is trying to clear an exam for Standard 10.  She did not get through to the schools in UK because of visa issues, and that is when she applied in the US and got an admission.  Kranti is trying to collect funds for Sheetal's one-year diploma programme in the US from online contributions. "We have got her a ticket for sometime later this month, and we are in the process of collecting funds for her course. We will need around $20,000 (approx. Rs 12 lakh) for her trip, tuition and stay there", says Robin Chaurasiya, co-founder of Kranti.  Sheetal wants to get a formal education in drumming because she'd like to return back to India and teach the same to others from her community. "I want to do something for my community", she proudly says. "Now when I look back, I see how different my life had been before I came to Kranti. I had absolutely no knowledge about anything and my life was so difficult".  But today, Sheetal is a motivational speaker as well. Among other issues she talks about abuse, rape and sexual assault. She also teaches children. "I like talking to people. I like to share my stories too with others", she says.  As Sheetal's achievement is being discussed far an wide, she is busy preparing herself for a new chapter in her life. "Now I believe that every person has the right to dream, no matter who they are or where they come from", says Sheetal.  If you wish to contribute, visit https://milaap.org/fundraise/Send-Sheetal-From-Red-Light-Area-To-US-Drum-School
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