Sangeeta Kumari

“I belong to Khera, a village untouched by development in Bihar’s Gaya district. Growing up, I didn’t even have access to electricity. I remember studying in the light of lanterns until quite late in the night. My parents would often ask me to shut my books and stop studying, but I was determined to continue and not let that discourage me.

“Time and again, people from my community would come over to my place and try to convince my parents to pull me out from school. They justified their apprehensions over me attending school by saying ‘ladki jawan hai’ (she’s a young girl and shouldn’t be allowed to venture outside the household’s periphery). I would let it in from one ear and out from the other. I would also tell my parents to not give in to what they were saying and let me continue with my schooling. I rationalized with them by saying it was the only way to move forward in life and that it would only help me support them in the future.

“Today my parents are very happy with the fact that I teach students in Dobhi Village School; it’s the same school I passed out from. I contribute financially to the house – I grew up in abject poverty, and support my siblings. I have seven sisters and four brothers.

“I am so grateful to this school. It has completely changed my lifestyle. I don’t know what shape my life would have taken had it not been for this school. When I look at the students I teach now, I get reminded of my past and often find myself thinking that they’re just like how I used to be when I was their age. I want to help students from disadvantaged sections of the society. What better way to do it than spread education among them? It’s the key to a happy, independent life. Nothing can influence one more than education.