Often beaten, loved by none, she became an art therapist and is now headed to New York University

Life is not easy but some people end up living it better. This is the story of one such girl whose mother was in the flesh trade, was beaten, abused, and never had a family to love or care for her. But today she works as a social worker and by her merit has managed to get a scholarship to study ‘Art Therapy’ in New York University. 

Credit: Humans of Bombay
Ashwini was only five years old when she ran away from her mother who would beat her black and blue “for something as trivial as losing her lipstick.” Her mother was in the flesh trade and to this day Ashwini has no memory of her mother loving or caring for her. Her childhood memories consist of nightmarish beatings and shouting.
“At 8, she finally sent me to an NGO shelter home where I spent many years running from the teacher’s beatings. It was a Christian hostel, and if we didn’t follow even one of their rules we would be beaten and starved for days. My mother passed away during this time, so I took this abuse for 10 years because I didn’t know any better,” Ashwini told Humans of Bombay.
It was at this point that life took a turn for her. “A few of my friends however, managed to run away to a place called Kranti which looks after girls like me…they told me of a better life and encouraged me to follow them,” she said.
“I finally took the brave step of running away to them and that’s when my life changed. At Kranti, I had therapy every week and learned about art, dance, and other forms of therapy,” she explained.
It was obviously important for Ashwini to help children in difficult circumstances like her. “After I learned all these things, I started volunteering to help other kids. My favorite activity is volunteering at Tata Memorial Hospital, where I bring art activities for children who are waiting for cancer treatment,” she said.
Ashwini has been traveling around India for the past two years. She learned theatre in West Bengal, attended photography class in Himachal, volunteered with NGOs in Gujarat, and worked with Dalit communities in Delhi.
“My experiences convinced me that I wanted to be an art therapist and spend my life helping others who found it difficult to express. I applied to New York University and got in with a big scholarship— my entire tuition is covered! For me, this was the biggest validation — that I could get into a college of my dreams, study what I love and make a difference,” she said.  
Life is precious. A heart for service for others and a little courage can do wonders.
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