Lekha* (13) lives in a village in the Udaipur district of Rajasthan.

Years back, Lekha had to drop-out of school to help out at home. She desperately wanted to go to school and over the years she often made her desire known to her mother. However, she was constantly given a deaf ear. Her father is mostly in Gujarat, in search of labour work, while her mother works in fields for meagre wages.

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Lekha (middle) with her mother and sister

Since education and a meal was provided free at the Government school, Lekha’s younger sister was allowed to continue schooling. Frustrated by her mother’s refusal, Lekha would often hide her sister’s textbooks and refuse to return them. Sometimes, Lekha would get angry and hit her sister. Lekha’s mother didn’t understand the reason behind her rebellion.

Educate Girls’ staff visited Lekha’s home during the door-to-door survey. Lekha’s mother said that it was too late to do anything about it now. Lekha however spoke up and said that she wanted to go to school. Identifying her hunger to continue studying, the field staff and community volunteer repeatedly tried to convince Lekha’s mother. They counseled her about the fact that the disparity in the privileges given to her children was causing Lekha grief. They didn’t give up until Lekha’s mother finally relented and agreed to send her to school.

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In 2017, the day when Lekha could carry her backpack and walk to school, was a day that she can never forget. “I was walking but it felt like flying. I had waited so long for this moment!” says Lekha.

Lekha was enrolled in Grade 5. She regularly attends school and still helps with the chores at home or with work in the fields. Lekha recently said, “Sometimes I still don’t get enough time to study at home because of the work. Still, this is better than not being able to go to school at all. My sister is in 7th Grade so she helps me with my studies. I’m glad she didn’t stop studying. I was jealous of my sister because she went to school. I regret being angry before. I love her very much and she always supports me. No girl who wants to study should be kept away from school. I hope that when I grow up, I will be able to help more girls get educated.”

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