Vishakha Shirke is all of 17, but her determination to sit for her ten standard board exams despite all odds proves the strength of her will.
The resident of the Mumbai Suburb Jogeshwari, was only 14, when her family made her drop out of school. The reason for forcing her to quit her education given to her was ‘it had no value to her life.’
Now at 17, this girl from the tribal Vaidu community, will be appearing for her Class X Board exams.
And it has been no easy task. The 17-year-old girl bravely fought all odds, including her alcoholic father to re-enrol herself in the Shramik Vidyalaya.
If her father had his way, she was to be forcibly married off to another boy from the tribal community which predominantly works in homespun medical remedies and engages in menial jobs like hawking reported DNA.
One of the guiding mentors who helped Vishakha break free from societal shackles and resume her education was 27-year-old social activist Durga Gudilu.
Vishakha is only one among the other twelve kids from the community with similar struggles to appear for their board exams from Mumbai, thanks to Durga’s NGO.
Speaking to the publication, Durga revealed how her Maharashtra Vaidu Swayamsangharsha Samajik Sanstha found that 412 teenagers in the state were out of school in 2017.
It was at the time that Durga along with her organisation that works for the welfare of this tribal community decided to take responsibility for re-enrolling these teens in local schools.
“Many students, especially girls, are pressured by their families to forego formal schooling. The community does not set much store by education, and most parents want their daughters to be married so that their husbands can look after them. After years of persuasion, we have been successful in changing their mindset to some extent,” Durga told DNA.
The education of these students now under the wing of the NGO is being funded by global donors like Switzerland-based Christof and Madeleine Siffert.
They are delighted at being given a chance to turn their lives around and secure their future through education.
“It’s a nice feeling to be able to pursue my education. There is a sense of accomplishment,” Vishakha told DNA.
We wish these students all the very best! May they succeed with flying colours!
Feature Image In-set credit – DNA