Panthic, Community

First Lady Empowers Girls During Delhi Museum Visit

By Anju Kaur | November 08, 2010

Manpreet Kaur, 14, came by an overnight train from her village in the Punjab.
She said she asked Mrs. Obama “If you have a fight with your husband who apologized first. She said the president has to say he is sorry first.”
Sajida Malik, 11, was able to hold Mrs. Obama’s hand. She said Mrs. Obama “Was very good. She seemed to understand us even when we spoke Hindi.” Malik’s mother has never studied, like many of the girls here.
Mrs. Obama spoke a lot about the importance of studying.
Some of the girls wore maroon school uniforms, their hair in looped braids and tied in red ribbons, with knee high socks under black mary-jane shoes. Others wore blue uniforms with white sashes.
They passed through hand-carved wooden doors with latticework, and near a Gujarati pigeon house, which historically celebrates nature and provides a refuge for birds.
The ages of the girls were 10 to 13, and they were from three non-government organizations that work with girls from poor communities. The girls attend schools throughout Delhi and northern India, representing India’s rich religious and cultural diversity. They are supported by Nanhi Kali, Vidya-Integrated Development for Youth and Adults, the Hope Project and Nanhi Chhaan. Each organization is committed to empowering girls and women and giving them the tools to succeed while working to build awareness of the plight and struggles of children in India.
Aprit Buttar, 11, from Rajasthan said, “All the boys were jealous,” that the girls were able to meet Mrs. Obama.
Mrs. Obama wore a deep green A- line skirt, black ballet flats, a sparkly silver belt over a black shirt.
She greeted them with her hands folded in a “Namaste.” The museum’s director Dr. Ruchira Ghose guided the group through the museum.
Mrs. Obama often held their hands and they were seen laughing.
The first room Mrs. Obama toured was a hand-carved and traditional Rajasthani Haveli or a residential house. She then visited wooden statues of Andhra Pradesh, which play important roles in Hindu mythology.
Mrs. Obama smiled at a giant statue with the image of Durga, a powerful Hindu goddess, and destroyer of evil.
“Women and power,” Mrs. Obama smiled and told the girls, pumping both hands in the air.
The group then sat down on cane chairs under the shade of a peepal tree, a sacred Hindu tree. Fruit juice, almonds, raisins and some home baked cookies from a U.S. Embassy employee were passed out, along with black string backpacks that had the White House emblem a Nike swoosh was below. Inside the bags, were notebooks and crayons.
Mrs. Obama spent another half an hour talking to the girls. She then went shopping at the crafts center. Mystic Hindu musicians from West Bengal performed with flutes and drums.