Maharani gives confidence to girls to chase their dreams
T. Sheha was 14 when she first joined the Maharani programme in 2016. Being a friendly person, she enjoyed making new friends at the Maharani camps and the Maharani Learning Lab (MLL).
Today, the 18-year-old is grateful for the skills and knowledge she gained through Maharani.
“I was so excited when I went to the Maharani camp and took part in the activities organised at the MLL. It was my first time being a part of such a programme, and I was interested to know what it can offer to girls like me from the rural areas,” she said.
“I always wanted to learn baking but did not have an oven at home. I am very thankful to MLL for giving me the opportunity to learn baking. Now, I can bake many types of cakes and cupcakes, and decorate them,” she said.
Sneha also took up Indian classical dance at the MLL.
“Normally, to learn a dance form like Bharatanatyam, there is a substantial fee to be paid. But here at MLL, it is offered for free. It was an opportunity not to be missed,” she said.
For Sneha, MLL is a safe space where she could learn and express her creativity. She joined the handicrafts class and learned how to design flower bouquets and other types of handicrafts. She is also happy to be involved in mural art drawing at the MLL.
Her most unforgettable experience is being part of the Maharani Footprints programme, a mentoring initiative that pairs Maharani girls with older female students from the Quest International University in nearby Ipoh.
“My mentor really helped me think about my future and the various options I could explore based on my interests. She also taught me how to manage my time better using a timetable,” she explains.
As part of the Footprints initiative, mentors accompanied their mentees on a fun outing to KidZania, an indoor family themed learning centre that offers interactive learning and role play experiences.
“It was such an eye-opener. Now I realise there are so many career options that I can choose from,” she said.
Her role model is her mother who single-handedly raised her and her sister while also caring for her aged grandparents.
“My mother is amazing, I learned to be responsible and independent thanks to her,” she said.
Sneha feels that more girls from rural areas should join Maharani.
“Girls from rural areas do not have many opportunities to explore their creativity and learn new skills. Through this programme, we are given the chance to think differently, dream bigger, and have the motivation to chase goals,” she said.
Sneha said Maharani programme has given her the confidence to pursue her dream of becoming a flight attendant.
The Maharani Programme, celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2020, was initiated by RYTHM Foundation in 2010 and has helped over 7500 girls in Malaysia between the ages of 13 to 16 from poor and marginalised communities, providing skills and knowledge to enable them to identify and work towards their full potential.