19-year-old Sheetal Bhalegaon is from Sangam Ner in the Ahmednagar District of Maharashtra. She comes from a family of six including her parents, elder sister, two younger siblings and herself. Her father works in a sugar factory and her mother is a home maker. Having successfully passed her standard twelve examinations from Mahatama Phule college she shifted her focus towards fulfilling a dream she had cherished for long – to become a nurse. However, she could not afford a professional course in nursing.
A wise man once said, “If a dream fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all try something.” This aptly applies to Sheetal who did not give up her desire to become a nurse.
She heard about Pratham from her cousin sister who had been a part of Pratham’s bed-side assistance program. “It was a chance for me to do something which will bring me closer to my dream.” She promptly moved to Nashik along with her elder sister to join Pratham’s bed side assistance program and started living with her aunt.
However this transition to a new city was not easy for her. Having never lived away from her parents, she initially battled homesickness and longed to go back home. Eventually she made friends at Pratham and soon she found herself at home in Nashik.
She has fond memories of her time spent at Pratham. “I especially liked the various activities we engaged in apart from the regular course. Self-help activities were fun. They helped me develop myself as a person. I was a very quiet and reserved person earlier but after the course I have become more confident and I have started interacting with more and more people”, she says. Indeed her cheerful countenance and infectious smile are testimony to this change in her.
After completing her course she worked as a trainee at Nashik’s Sant Krupa Hospital and was retained by the hospital as a permanent staff three months ago. “I am now an earning member of my family,” she proudly declares. She earns around 3,000 rupees out of which she saves 1,000 rupees and gives the rest to her elder sister. She is now awaiting a hike in her salary to 6,000 rupees a month. “I will buy a pair of gold earrings for myself after the hike,” she says with excitement.
Content with her life, she is enjoying the work that she does and feels that Pratham’s course provided her with the right pedestal to move towards her dream of becoming a nurse.