It is not uncommon in India, particularly in rural societies, for girls to leave school before they reach the 5th grade, as early marriage and domestic duties are prioritized over a complete education. This situation almost became a permanent reality for 12-year-old Meena.
Meena’s village, Nokh, is without a local primary school and after several years of traveling a great distance on foot to attend the closest school, Meena’s parents, deciding this an unsafe journey for a young girl, asked Meena to stay at home and help them with domestic and farming duties.
Meena spent 2 years out of school and describes it as a “very bad” time in her life. Meena had thoroughly enjoyed her short-lived education and, as a dropout she said, she was constantly thinking about her studies and the life she would not have as a result of terminating them prematurely. Consequently, she says, her work at home and on the farms suffered, as she could not fully commit herself to her duties.
Now enrolled and studying at the Raipur KGVB, Meena is fully committed to her studies, to her teachers and friends as a Bal Sabha cultural secretary and to the pursuit of becoming a doctor.
As with an increasing number of girls in Pali, an Educate Girls Field Coordinator persuaded Meena’s parents of the benefits of education in the safe surroundings of the residential KGVB. Meena tells us that when she returns home for holidays it is now her parents who are her greatest support and the first to encourage her to apply herself to her studies and pursue her ambitions.