Hemalatha is currently in 7th grade. She especially loves walking to school on crisp mornings. She comes from a large household, with three siblings, her parents and her maternal grandparents all living under the same roof. Her father suffers from alcoholism and spends all of his earnings on drinking. Her mother, the only other income-earner of the family, struggles to provide for the large family.
Hemalatha was born with a disability – her right leg is partially bent and hinders her ability to walk correctly. She tells us she has been harassed and teased over her disability all the way through her school years, from kindergarten onward.
All those years of being teased and abused led her to believe that she was different, wrong, defective, and that was why she had no friends. She never realized that what the other children were doing to her was wrong. She never thought to stand up to them, and no one stood up for her either. It wasn’t until she was in 6th grade and joined her local HoPE Learning Center that she learned to accept herself just as she is.
When Hemalatha was readily accepted and treated with dignity and respect by the staff and students of the HoPE Learning Center, she was overwhelmed by the love and care showed to her. She tells us that whenever she cried to her mother about being born different, her mother would assure her she was perfect, but she never truly believed it. Finding friends who cared for her rather than teasing her was a huge step for Hemalatha, and so she had trouble trusting at first.
Gradually, as the years have passed, she has learned to accept the love and care provided to her and she has even learned to love herself, just as she is.
Hemalatha is thankful to her friends and teachers at the HoPE Learning Center, and her mother is very proud of how far she has come in the past few years. Hemalatha helps everyone in her village, and now works alongside her mother doing household chores for village neighbors to help provide for her family.
Even though her family still struggles financially, she says she is very happy and eternally grateful to Tripura Foundation for helping change her mind, change her life, and love herself despite the hate she received for so many years.