Little Rural Change Makers – Fragile. Fearless. Free.


Durgha is one of our youngest girl-skaters. The other kids gave her the nickname “kukera” – which means chicken. They say it’s a funny name – all I can see is that Durgha doesn’t like it. And she makes this very clear. She chases anyone who teases her with this name. That’s one of her strengths: She very much has her own mind and isn’t afraid to speak up even against the older Yadav boys. Durgha is just six years old. She looks a bit fragile but this is only the first impression that strikes you. When you look at her fancy clothes she might seem very “girly” –  all pink frocks and frills and so on. But her looks and dresses are misleading. When it comes to taking a stand she acts just like a strong boy. And trust me, she does take a stand and can be very convincing. Durgha will never take no for an answer – and she is always pushing the boundaries. Very untypical for a young girl in a village.

This year she’s started to go to school and she takes it all quite seriously because she knows that school is her entry-card to the skatepark. At the skatepark she’s a rock star. She’s been coming here for the last two years which basically means for one third of her life. Fearlessly she stands on her board and from her first insecure “steps” she’s made very quick progress. Her fearlessness and courage come very naturally to her. By now she can drop from the ramps and safely cruise and zig zag through the crowd. And even though the number of skateboards is limited at the park, you’ll never ever see her WITHOUT a board. It’s her secret just how she manages to do this. When she’s cruising on the board you will never hear her shout: “Ulrike, Ulrike – look at me!” which is what the other kids do to gain attention and show off the latest tricks they’ve learnt. No, she’s always completely focussed trying something new or simply enjoying the ride. At the skatepark she’s in a world of her own. Unlike any of the other girls you will always see her skateboarding alone. This is quite unusual. Not that she is in any way excluded. No. She simply does it her way.

Durgha is much more social when it comes to our volunteers and guests. She was the first one to call Mannan by his name – unlike all the others who still keep calling him bhaiya (brother). Durgha embraces all our visitors. Literally. With an open smile she seeks body contact and is eager for attention. Sometimes she really stretches their patience  – she will clutch and cling to them like a limpet and never give them a moment’s peace. Making faces, starring at them, jumping on them, pestering them. Durgha doesn’t talk much – but just like Ramkesh, her older brother, she is an acute observer.

To me it always feels like she has something in her mind, some kind of plan … or dream. Only she’s not yet ready to let it out..!

Photo Credits : Gabriel Engelke

Words By : Ulrike Reinhard

Ulrike Reinhard is the founder of Janwaar Castle. You can follow her on twitter @ulrike_reinhard and facebook Ulrike Reinhard

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