Joy Ride

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Retreating into thehouse she grabs a mat and exits from the side entrance into the large mud andcow dung plastered courtyard. Spreading the mat on the plastered floor, shecalmly settles down to complete her assignments.

For Mita, acquiring an education came at a cost. She had to walk7 kilometres one-way to get to school. Spending an hour treading dusty, rundown roads, Mita almost always succumbed to exhaustion even before her classbegan."When I walked to school it took me a lot of time to get there. Thejourney used to tire me. I was drained out even before reaching school. For thefirst two class periods I was unable to give my full attention to the lessonsthat were being taught," says 14-year-old Mita.

Walking alone was a risky option for Mita and had to alwaystravel in a group.Many times, fatigue and weakness confined her to the house,diffusing her aspirations to finish school. "Due to exhaustion I fell sickat times, making me irregular at school. It was not good because I missed a lotof studies. I had to borrow notes from my classmates. My grades startedfalling. Low grades demoralised me," she says.

Wrapping up her home assignments Mita prepares for school.Rolling her bicycle into the yard, she rests it against the walls of the house.Sprinting across, she heads to her room to get ready. "The bicycle was agift for me from World Vision. It has been a blessing. Now getting to schoolhas become stress free. It takes me half the time to reach school than before.My grades are slowing improving because I am regular to school. I aspire tohave a different future than my parents. My father is not literate and mymother studied only till Grade 6. I want to be the first person in my family tofinish school. I desire to be a teacher," she says.

"Education is very important, we work really hard everyday, fishing in the Sundarbans, so that our children can get good education andbetter jobs to build a better future for themselves. I am grateful for thebicycle because it helps my daughter be regular to school," says30-year-old Suchita Gayan, Mita’s mother.

It is time for school. Bidding her parents goodbye Mita ridesoff with her 6-year-old sister Mitati.

Dropping little Mitati at her school Mita rushes off. Parkingher cycle securely in the stand, she enters her school; making her way throughthe corridors to reach class.

In a jam-packed class Mita paces up and down to find a seatbefore spotting an empty place near her friend Bhavani. While waiting for theteacher to arrive, she pulls out her workbook. Glancing at her workbook onelast time, she consults Bhavani for solving some doubts.

"I am glad my children have access to education. Mydaughter helps me understand things. She reads out the rate card to me andexplains what is written. Education is part of our everyday. Because I amilliterate, when I go to sell my fish, people take advantage of me andmanipulate the rates. If I was educated then no one could fool us. I amvoiceless without education but my daughters have a voice," says34-year-old Balram, Mita’s father.

In 2014 World Vision gave219 children bicycles to curb the attrition rate in local schools and provideaccess to education. Mita’s sister is a sponsored child. Apart from the cyclethe family has received a solar light, which helps the children to study atnight.

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