Jhulan Kumar - Founder
My family home is filled with women. I have been so lucky to be filled with the love of female hearts through all my growing years. Yet tragedy found us which suddenly forced me to learn and understand about society and the expectations placed upon the shoulders of gentle girls and women.
Their personal stories, and my part to play as the sole remaining male in my family, has shown me the huge gap in society attitudes between the genders. These realities have changed the way I view the world and the Indian society I was born into.
My mother was sadly widowed young, my older brother was killed in a motorbike accident leaving behind an orphaned son due to his mother running away after the accident. My elder sister and two children were also left like a widow when her husband suffered brain damage in the same accident. She had to fend for herself supporting her family.
I personally witnessed those struggles and bore the brunt of community ridicule as our family went lower and lower in the scale of status.
Added to that I had three more sisters whom all would need to marry one day with less chances for any education coming up for them.
My life began changing when I met a very kind Swiss man, Cedric Tineo, who came to my school and offered education support to myself and a couple of other friends. That belief in me from an outsider changed everything in my life direction. I worked doubly hard so he would be proud of my efforts and the life changing opportunity he gifted. It was the English language education I learnt in school that helped me meet even more people who would become a network of major backers to my journey of education and supporting my family.
In 2008 when I was 17, I met an amazing family from Australia in the temple grounds of Bodhgaya. Under the guise of practicing English with two other friends we approached the woman and man with their two young teenage boys. Here a friendship blossomed that can only be explained as, “I found my other family.”
From 2008 to this day my Australian family has loved and guided me through many education choices, insecurities, fear in moving to Delhi from my simple rural life, to the marriage of my beautiful wife, Pratigya.
Always at the end of phone calls or emails advice flowed and supported my journey into manhood. This gave me courage to push harder and excel in everything I tried. I know first hand how important it is to have people believe in you.
This same family is now supporting the initiative of Open Hands Education by becoming a major fundraising partner through their WOW Australia programmes.
( Grant & Celia Fuller )
Then as the Gods watched over me I met other incredibly generous women who also believed in me and my vision for helping my sisters and family. Each one of them added financial support to ensure my University Education in Delhi became a success.
I bow in gratitude to Mamma Cecilia from England and the Mamma Priscilla Fox from America.
The work I gained from my higher education transformed my family’s life. Two sisters married and had children, my mother’s simple shop made from grass thatch become a shop made of brick and a mud home slowly transformed into a home of brick and render. Our family has grown from strength to strength and we all, as a team want to give back and help others who also need a helping hand.
I began my software and website development company, Mindindia Soft Technology
( www.mindiansoft.com). My associates and myself are also partnering with Open Hands Education Organisation to offer financial support to the different programmes we will be running. It would be completely remiss of me to not mention Cedric brother, Steve Alban Tineo, who came to meet me after many years of his brother finishing my initial childhood education support. Steve has become a huge part of my life by offering constant advice, supporting me through life decisions and trusting me within one of his educational charity programmes he began near my village in India. I became his man on the ground to report back to him how his program was going and help out whenever something went wrong and needed immediate action taken.
I now step into the space of giving back by co-ordinating the series of programmes now on offer in a couple of villages. My family of sisters, stand behind offering their support to the women and my new wife Pratigya, is equally passionate about our vision and is lining up to be a force of change for the coming generations. Thankyou for becoming part of my story