New Delhi, January 28th 2018: According to a recent survey, only 14 in every 100 girls reach XIIth standard, and that too in urban India! The statistics in terms of girls completing school education in India’s villages are understandably much more concerning, as an abysmal 1 out of 100 girls in rural India are able to complete secondary education. Inaccessibility to schools, gender inequality, lack of social awareness, early marriages, among others, are some of the reasons why a staggering number of girls in our country are out of schools.

To initiate effective dialogues on the significance of girl child education, and also commemorating and celebrating National Girl Child day which was held on 24th January this month, the inaugural screening of short film ‘Afzana’ was held at St. Paul’s School Auditorium, Hauz Khas, New Delhi, in an event where college and university students, NGO partners, community representatives, and educationists joined to support the noble cause.

The film ‘Afzana’ is presented by EVE volunteers and Creation Productions, and based on the real-life encounters of a girl, rehabilitated currently at Deepalaya Children’s Home, Gusbethi in Haryana. It narrates the story of a young girl from a remote Haryana village, who loves stories, has brought laurels to her school and village, and also traces her audacious journey to rewrite social norms in order to live her little dream, of holding the hands of education forever.

At the centre of ell eyes on the day was Afsana herself, who took the stage to deliver a mesmerizing extempore speech, recollecting her motivation-worthy tale of finding light at the end of the tunnel, and demanding for a level-playing field for education of all girls, who in her words “if given appropriate opportunities, can dream an independent successful career and life, and even move ahead of men.” She also expressed gratitude to Deepalaya for supporting her throughout her journey so far.

Shri Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, who graced the occasion as chief guest, presented an education scholarship to Afsana, the 14-year-old ‘wonder kid’. Among other noted dignitaries present were Dr. Youhanon Mar Demetrios, Metropolitan, Delhi Diocese, and Ms. Annie Raja, CPI Leader and Social Activist.

Delivering the keynote address at the event, Shri Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi said, “Afsana’s power packed story can be an inspiration for thousands of households across the country, where education is not seen as priority. The film, along with real-life Afsana’s inspirational story should be shown to parents all across the country, and not just in schools, because anybody who hears and sees the story will be a transformed person. The narrative of education needs to change drastically in favour of our girls, be it in government or private schools.”

Shri Somnath Bharti, MLA noted, “Access to basic education for all can bring about a paradigm shift in the development trajectory of the nation. It is about time we must not hesitate to question our own beliefs, and think of education as a catalyst for progress, and attaining sustainable social progress.”

Ms. Nikita Anand, Actress & Former Miss India pageant winner, told that Afzana’s story has moved her in an unprecedented manner, and emphasized that education can be the greatest weapon for social change.

Shri A J Philip, Secretary and CE, Deepalaya highlighted the efforts of Deepalaya NGO in facilitating the best of opportunities to thousands of girls like Afzana, who are on rolls at its various schools and learning centers.

Following the film screening and guest interactions, a skit was presented by 10 students from Deepalaya School, Gusbethi, underscoring the trivial discrimination faced by daughters, and women in large, in our country. Budding city-based singer and music composer Noel Sakhi, and Afsana put up a touching music performance to culminate the event.

In the end, the question circulating the minds of all those present was—“Can Afsana become India’s Malala someday?”

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