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Meet India’s 1st woman Dastango Fouzia, a Jamia alumna

Those who are regular at Dastango events know Fouzia, who only uses her last name, very well. In a short period of time this Old Delhi resident, who did her Master’s in Education and Planning from Jamia Millia Islamia, has made a mark for herself in the field mostly dominated by men.

Her tryst with Dastango, oral storytelling traditions, began in 2006. And how dedicated she has been to her profession could be found from the fact that she even gave up her full-time job as a lecturer at State Council of Educational Research and Training in Delhi. Since then she never looked back, mastering the art to tell stories of the deprived, showcasing stories on mental health.

“It might seem like a small thing, but the fact that people with mental disorders admit that something is wrong, is the first step towards recovery. I will talk about society. How even family members don’t want to acknowledge the disease of the sufferer,” she told dailyo.in.

The 40-year-old Fouzia said: “How do I explain the uncomfortable feeling that grips a woman when men in her locality strain their necks on seeing her walk home, long after the sun has set?” The journey to fame has not been easy for Fouzia, as while studying she supported herself by taking tuitions as her father was a scooter mechanic. Interestingly, she always aimed to do a degree in Mass Communication.

“But something always held me back. May be the fact that the cream of the country studied at that department. My English is not very good, you see. I have observed it closely — youngsters being apologetic of their own roots. Sometimes, even lying about their home addresses. Is it not tragic? It is easy to just talk about preserving culture and language. That cannot be done just by organising some annual conferences. What we need is a real education that instills pride in who we are, as a people. Why should I feel small for my Old Delhi accent?” she told dailyo.in.

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