Our Super Star Alumni of the week Mandeep Kaur, an Amrit-Dhari Sikhni has broken free off all the shackles of an abrasive society that is infamous for its disparities against women. She is currently working as a “LifeStyle Assistant” under Aged Care Unit at ‘Kiaora Nursing House’ in Australia, where she takes care of the elderly people by maintaining a healthy and cheerful lifestyle for them through group activities, exercises, art and craft workshops and takes care of their medical well-being as well!
She completed her entire schooling from village Cheema Akal Academy in 2008. She developed interest in Nursing, upon which a school teacher suggested her to pursue a 2 year Diploma in “Welfare” offered at Australian Institute of Technology & Education (AITE) and guided herabout the career scope involved & other information. Her father being a constant support to her helped her with the application procedure and guided her all through. It was her mathematics teacher Mrs. Seema Rani who supported her family with some funds to help her get her visa.
In a recent interview, she shared with us everything about her journey, from life at her village, memories of her childhood, and her school days at Cheema Akal Academy, to her first day in Australia:
- She tells us how challenging it was living in amid contrasting environment and friends with contrasting lifestyles.But she manages to have preserved her identity and culture intact.
- She strongly credits it all to her daat (graced blessing) of “Amrit” (Baptism) and the spiritual-moral values that were instilled into her during the critical early age at Akal Academy, which provided her with a strong foundation and an unshakable faith which keeps her going.
- Recalling her first day in Australia where she stood nervous in her rare traditional Indian Attire at the reception desk while everyone looked at her with an alien eye.
- For a few days her Friends were judging and looked down upon her doubting her capabilities, noticing her rural ethnicity and her unusual dress-up, which was uncommon and awkwardly exclusive. But she won their respect in a couple of days.
- “I have always been treated as a guest with exceptional love & respect because of my courage to stand by my individuality with confidence, in midst of an alien society instead of being submissive & letting the society give shape to her personality without any fear of rejection”, told Mandeep Kaur.
- Mandeep was also the youngest student at her college where she got a chance to grow upwith a mature set of people.
- She took up a part-time job alongside studies, which would fetch her about $800 a month, in which she had to manage her expenses and also save to pay for her fees.
- She refused a job at a food-packaging factory, but since it involved packaging eggs, she could not afford to compromise & refused to the offer to maintain her Sikh Faith.
- She alongside her ongoing diploma course; took up a vocational course for certificate 3 in “Aged Care” at Australasian Aged Care Collage, upon completion of which, the director of the Institute personally approached her & offered her a Job position at one of her own Aged Care House.
- Mandeep carried on with her full-time job service as an Aged Care Nurse where she took care of aged people, which included responsibility of medication & vital monitoring in the initial 3 years.
- She also started preparing for IELTS for fulfilling her eligibility for filling PR application in Australia & successfully nailed it in 2011 after obtaining the required score at the test.
Remembering Life at Village & Difficulties:
Memories from her village, especially life she spent during schooling; she recalls how teachers at school always supported her.
- Her father Gurdaas Singh, farmer during early years of his life migrated to being a full time dedicated volunteer to serve at the Akal Academy under the guidance of Baba Iqbal Singh JI, Kalgidhar Trust, baru Sahib since childhood.
- Mandeep Kaur has 2 siblings, both brothers, younger to her, they are also exceptional students of Akal Academies, while one has already completed his schooling & the other just passed +2 with whooping 92%, topping the School.
- Mandeep tells us how she had to manage taking care of his younger brothers while at the same time help her mother with the house work alongside maintaining good performance at her academics. “When I left, everyone around mothers could feel my mother was at loss, as I was her only helping hand at almost all the things she would do for the home”, she added.
- About difficult times; the only & the biggest barrier she feels,was the society, which still exists; it did not spare her or her innocent father either. “Everyone at village tried to shatter my father’s confidence in me, by trying to brain wash him about changing his decision of sending me abroad for studies. They said all sort of things to him & to my family, citing that it would be a waste of money & effort to spend on a girl child, they all would suggest dad to spend on my brothers instead, as girls are not worth investing upon”, revealed Mandeep, who now feels proud that her father maintained his confidence in her& remained absorptive & rational at that time of great difficulty & pressure.
- “I used to feel very agitated upon people & there have been times when I felt like going & giving them back an answerbut then I chose to stay quiet; I feel the silence & the results roar the loudest & are more effective than actual arguments, I feel me & my father have well responded to all the criticism that was ever made my anyone at the village & I hope our example will encourage several others to rise & stand against the abrasive society.”
- “I appeal to all parents to not ignore educating girl child & pay fair attention towards it. If I can do proud to my Father & be Independent & capable of supporting my family, so can be your daughter too.”
“To all students & other girls, I would recommend reading Sant Attar Singh Ji’s two part life history. I was never a reading person, but only once after I happened to read his life story & about what he stood for all his life, I realized the relevance of our faith, meaning of being a Sikh, especially keeping our hair & our Faith, reason for all those restrictions, rigorous routines & rules we are made to follow”.
~ Deeksha Singh
~ New Delhi, 25th Oct ’13