My name is Sangita and I belong to a lower-caste family in Bhanguri village. After I passed grade eight in 2011 from Aharvan School, my father and grandmother asked me to stop going to school as it was not safe to walk three kilometers through the village of upper-caste people, as they generally do not like girls from lower-caste families going to school because it challenges their supremacy. I had no option as I could not object to my parents' wishes. I felt very bad when I saw girls from upper-caste families going to private schools in buses hired by their parents.
I had to stay home for a whole academic year until one day, my friend from school told me that one NGO is providing transport to the girls from Muslim families attending Aharvan School. I had no idea how to approach that NGO and I am not Muslim too. My friends at school helped me and one day I met the representative of Lotus Outreach, who was providing transport. I was very happy to know that the NGO was going to add more girls to the bus and I requested them to add me to the list.
Lotus Outreach was going door-to-door to identify girls who were supposed to drop out after grade five, as our village has only one primary school and so the girls must drop out once they reach grade six because parents won’t let 11 and 12 year-old girls walk alone to a distant school. Lotus Outreach found 40 girls in our village who either dropped out last year or were scheduled to drop out this year after passing grade five.
I was lucky to get a seat on the Blossom Bus and was enrolled again and returned to school. My grandmother initially felt uncomfortable, but when she was informed that over 150 girls are travelling on the Blossom Bus which has been running for three years, she not only agreed but also handed out sweets to the girls on the bus! My grandmother was even happier than I was, as her sons could never study much because of non-availability of resources, but now her granddaughter can study and become a model for the lower-caste families living in the village.
I am happy to be in school, enjoy the bus ride and enjoy my studies. I hope that I can one day graduate high school and get a good job. I want to study not only for my own development, but I want to help motivate parents of all girls from lower-caste families to go to school too.
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