Retreating into the house she grabs a mat and exits from the side entrance into the large mud and cow dung plastered courtyard. Spreading the mat on the plastered floor, she calmly settles down to complete her assignments.
For Mita, acquiring an education came at a cost. She had to walk 7 kilometres one-way to get to school. Spending an hour treading dusty, rundown roads, Mita almost always succumbed to exhaustion even before her class began."When I walked to school it took me a lot of time to get there. The journey used to tire me. I was drained out even before reaching school. For the first two class periods I was unable to give my full attention to the lessons that were being taught," says 14-year-old Mita.
Walking alone was a risky option for Mita and had to always travel in a group.Many times, fatigue and weakness confined her to the house,diffusing her aspirations to finish school. "Due to exhaustion I fell sick at times, making me irregular at school. It was not good because I missed a lot of studies. I had to borrow notes from my classmates. My grades started falling. Low grades demoralized 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 a gift for me from World Vision. It has been a blessing. Now getting to school has become stress free. It takes me half the time to reach school than before. My grades are sloly improving because I am regular to school. I aspire to have a different future than my parents. My father is not literate and my mother studied only till Grade 6. I want to be the first person in my family to finish 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 and better jobs to build a better future for themselves. I am grateful for the bicycle because it helps my daughter be regular to school," says 30-year-old Suchita Gayan, Mita’s mother.
It is time for school. Bidding her parents goodbye Mita rides off with her 6-year-old sister Mitati.
Dropping little Mitati at her school Mita rushes off. Parking her cycle securely in the stand, she enters her school; making her way through the corridors to reach class.
In a jam-packed class Mita paces up and down to find a seat before spotting an empty place near her friend Bhavani. While waiting for the teacher to arrive, she pulls out her workbook. Glancing at her workbook one last time, she consults Bhavani for solving some doubts.
"I am glad my children have access to education. My daughter helps me understand things. She reads out the rate card to me and explains what is written. Education is part of our everyday. Because I am illiterate, when I go to sell my fish, people take advantage of me and manipulate the rates. If I was educated then no one could fool us. I am voiceless without education but my daughters have a voice," says 34-year-old Balram, Mita’s father.
In 2014 World Vision gave 219 children bicycles to curb the attrition rate in local schools and provide access to education. Mita’s sister is a sponsored child. Apart from the cycle the family has received a solar light, which helps the children to study at night.