Destined for greatness

Daughters of Destiny is a must watch


Photo via Netflix

Daughters of Destiny is a Netflix original series of documentaries highlighting the lives of five young women among the poorest of the poor in the southern provinces of India and how NYU graduate Abraham George transformed their lives. By opening up a school in 1997 called Shanti Bhavan, George has been educating impoverished children as a way to combat the rural caste system and poverty in India.

As shown in the show, one child per family in a village is allowed to attend the school, in which they live in for 14 years from pre-school to the time they graduate for college. During this time, five girls were interviewed almost every step of the way. In these interviews, the girls shared the prejudice they faced before they were selected and the prejudice they face now that they are among the first in their village to break the traditional role of a female.

Between ages 14 through 17, they explain, their mothers were married to men almost twice their age. Around the end of middle school, their mothers were pulled out of school in order to be trained to be a perfect wife: they learned how to cook, clean and obey.

It was inspiring to see how these girls, who were labeled lowest in society from birth, learn English, math, science, and challenge the societal norms. These girls, who were not used to the pace of college exams or dreams about successful careers, made learning in such difficult circumstances a lot easier than it looked. Seeing them blossom in an environment where they were considered  a burden to their families made me feel guilty for not trying hard enough in school myself.

From teaching them dance, sports, and art along with the basic academic subjects, the determination of Shanti Bhavan’s staff to groom these impoverished children into talented adults who have the chance to flourish in the top colleges of India is evident.

What I loved most about this show was that it was uncensored in a way that showed not only the pros of Shanti Bhavan but also the cons and failures of the establishment’s first years. Many of the girls in these interviews shared the difficulty of adapting to the rules of their home since they had been trained to voice their opinions and challenge what they felt was wrong. Some of them also regretted joining the school because it had created a rift of jealousy between them and their siblings since only one child per family was allowed admission.

Overall, I loved this show and I hope that they continue to film the successes and drawbacks Shanti Bhavan faces. Dr. George’s tenacity inspires me to one day become successful enough to impact hundreds of lives the way he has been doing for 20 years. And I hope that everyone watches this show and gets inspired to do the same.