What comes to your mind when you come across the word slum? An area where people are uneducated and poor. Where girls are harassed, humiliated and raped. No access to toilets. No cleanliness. And much more. But here is a story that will definitely change your mindset towards slum area and inspire you to do something for the society.

A 17-year-old Saleha Khan from Mumbai’s slum. Who once was asked to discontinue her education after schooling just because girls insecurity in the area and scarcity of finance in her family, now won a prestigious award called Savitribai Phule award. The award generally goes to five mothers from Maharashtra who have done extraordinary work in the society. The award is awarded every year. But, this year Saleha grabbed the attention of Maharashtra government and honoured with the award. She received the award on January 1 this year.

“This area has a municipal school until seven standards. Afterwards girls are stopped to go to school because of two reasons. One is finance constraints and second is girls are not safe in this area,” said Saleha. However, Saleha resumed her education when financial help poured in from her area non-profit organisation (NGO) called Apnalaya.

It was not only finance that was restraining Saleha from education but her safety too. Her parents were not assured of her safety that is why she rarely step out of home after schooling. But, Rupali Goswami who is associated with a NGO called ‘Save The Children’ convinced and motivated Saleha’ parents and make them send her college for further study. “Because of Rupali ma’m and Apnalaya organisation I am able to go to college and contribute something for the society,” added Saleha.

It has been three years Saleha is involved in social activities. Now she is a volunteer of child rights, health and nutrition and sanitation. “In three years I am trained very well. I take lectures about education, cleanliness, changes in male and Female while growing up, in the neighbourhood,” added Saleha.

(Saleha Khan in social activity)

The award has changed many things in Saleha’s family and her neighbourhood. When people came to know that she won this award many parents allowed their daughters to join with Saleha and contribute something to the society. Parents also allowed their daughters to study further.

“My father would always refuse me to do social work because of girls insecurity in the area, but after this award, my father himself said to me to do whatever I am doing for the society,” added Saleha.