From Childhood Trauma Survivor to a Social Entrepreneur Sahida Khatun’s Amazing Journey

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In India, there has been an age-long debate going on the kind of education we are providing to our young generation. People have been opposing the facilities given to students in government schools and the way their knowledge is tested (based on students’ cramming power!) Moreover, the stress and pressure students feel due to overload of studies often takes a toll on their mental health. Some students get depressed while others go to the extent of taking their lives. Sahida Khatun is one such lady who is taking steps to end this trauma faced by students by her Safe School initiative. She is herself a survivor of childhood trauma and now a social entrepreneur who has dedicated her life to changing the lives of people. Read her inspiring story in her words here.

Sahida’s Story

I am Sahida Khatun, a software engineer and a mother of two kids.  I am a childhood trauma survivor and I believe a safe childhood very much essential to become a better human being in the future.

I was born and brought up in a village in West Bengal. My parents had invested a lot in my education and I always used to feel proud of it. However, I used to feel sad when I observed many of my neighbors and relatives are ignoring their child’s education.  Their daughters were dropped out of schools so that they can handle household chores or get married soon. On the other hand, their sons were dropped out of schools early so that they can start earning early.

Still, today, whenever I visualize the top view of the Indian Education System, I can see a lot of adolescent girls and boys are just out of this system due to the lack of family support. Moreover, when I go deep into the education system, I find the system is not really a safe learning space for all. More than physical safety-related issues we have emotional safety-related issues. That is why students are under stress and every hour there is an incident of student suicide in our country.

So, to achieve the goal of “Education for ALL”, we must focus first on creating safe learning environments for all. To create a safe learning environment, we need to focus on sensitizing students with relevant life skills. However, as discussed with teachers, parents, and students, I found only sensitizing students is not enough, we have to sensitize parents and teachers too.

I was running a campaign(#ParentsInSchool) through change.org asking Birla Group Schools for better parent-school collaboration to ensure student’s safety. Then I thought of move this campaign to an advanced stage. So, I have created this platform Safe School Life so that we can sensitize parents, teachers, and students through our digital modules as well as from offline workshops. Change.Org has helped me with the initial grant.

My idea has been also selected for incubation by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce & Industry. They helped me with the connection of schools so that I can validate my idea with the school authorities.

At this moment focused life skills are:

  1. Mindful Parenting: For parents as well as for teachers too
  2. Cyber Safety Guidelines: For Students, For Teachers and For Parents
  3. Act of Kindness:  For students to control emerging peer violence

I started taking workshops on mindful parenting in schools. I also visit ICDS school to understand the safety-related issues of underprivileged children.

Not only the modules but also, I also want to create an interactive forum with educators, parents, and students.  An educator can be a storyteller, personal safety trainer, a student counselor and of course a teacher. A safe community can only create a safe learning environment for our students.

So I request all of you to join the forum SafeSchool Life and contribute your valuable inputs in terms of story, picture, ideas.  We will also have a reward system for your value addition to our community.

My dream is to nurture the innovative minds of our children and to ensure the safety of those minds.  I believe in that way we can covert our developing country to a developed nation one day. I urge co-operation from all the stakeholders who can ensure the safety of our students.

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