From a young age Jyoti dreamed about a life beyond what was the norm in her community, but due to circumstances that was not possible. Now Jyoti is giving her daughters the opportunities she yearned for herself by having them play soccer.
My name is Jyoti Rathod. I live in Ambedkar Nagar and I work as a housemaid.
I belong to a poor family, I used to live in Colaba with my parents and 4 siblings. I used to love studies. I studied till 5th standard, but in 6th standard I lost my father. It was a big loss for me because I didn't just lose my dad but also my dreams. My mom told me to leave studies, she couldn't afford everyone's education. She had to look after five of us. She told me to look after my younger brothers and the household chores. I could understand her situation as well, even she didn't have any option. After three years I got married, I was 16 years old when I got married. All my dreams were smashed, I was forced for something that I was not ready for. Every moment I missed my father a lot, because if he would have existed he would have forced me to complete my education instead of getting married. He wanted me to become a police officer, but that dream has now just become a memory. When I was 19 I gave birth to a girl child. When I had her in my arms I decided that I will support her at every step of her life. I will provide her education and I will let her live her dreams. I decided that I will see to it that my daughter would never face the situations that I faced. All my siblings have pursued education to some extent. My brothers are working at good positions, I do feel sometimes that if I would have got an opportunity to study then even I would have explored and achieved many things in life. But now I will support my daughters and provide opportunities for them.
When my daughter Preeti was born,my in-laws started commenting and taunting because they wanted a boy and not a girl. My second child was also a girl, but I was very happy that I have given birth to two women, I decided that I will share my dreams with them and ask them if they can fulfil them. I still remember that day when Priya was born, my extended family called her bad luck. I started weeping in the hospital itself.14 years have passed by, but I still remember their words. Today when I look at them they apologise for what they had said because both my daughters have achieved amazing things at a young age. Specially Priya who was called as bad luck will be now going to Denmark for the DANA Cup. Both my girls are very hardworking, one is outstanding at studies and other is outstanding at sports.
Today my daughters are fulfilling all my dreams. They are making me proud and achieving heights. I don't get sad about the fact that I couldn't fulfil my dreams, because my daughters are growing. There were many people in the community who criticised me and judged me. They would always taunt when my daughters would wear shorts, people around never liked that I support my girls to play football. But only I knew about the positive changes that I was observing in my daughters because of football. As I have mentioned earlier that I will always support my girls for everything that is right and good for them. In these situations I did support them, I would answer all those people who would taunt and criticise my girls. I told them that you cannot judge a girls character by her attire or by the clothes she wears. Its not about small clothes they wear, people need to change their small thought process. There were times when people in my community excluded me because of my values, but for me that didn't matter because for me my family was most important and not other people. Now all those who criticised my daughters come to me saying that you were right Jyoti! All of them support my daughters and also support their own daughters to play football.
I want to thank my husband for supporting me at every step of our life. My husband reflects the ethos of my father. I wouldn't have overcome my struggles without his company. He understands what I have gone through, he has supported me in all my decisions.When we were enrolling our daughters in school, I insisted for getting them enrolled in English medium, all our relatives opposed but my husband supported.He understands the need to support girls and their development.
I also want to thank OSCAR for recognising the potential that my girls carry. This change wouldn't have been possible without their help either. They taught my girls about values and life skills. Today my recognition is Priya's mom, when I walk on the streets people say that's Priya's mother walking. This is the change that I experience now. I feel blessed and extremely proud of my children. My happiness has no boundaries!
The biggest lesson that I have learnt in life is that "Without parents it is extremely difficult for a child to grow and live a secure life, children need parents at every stage of their life". For my children I will be the pillar of support!
A daughter is the best creation of God. And all the daughters out there are proving themselves and that they contain highest potential.
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