Sister brings girls to school in Bihar | patna | Hindustan Times
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Sister brings girls to school in Bihar

Lilawati would have spent a lifetime grazing cattle if Sister Sudha Varghese had not come to the rescue of girls like her. Mammen Mathew reports.

patna Updated: Jan 01, 2008 04:10 IST
Mammen Mathew

Lilawati would have spent a lifetime grazing cattle if Sister Sudha Varghese had not come to the rescue of girls like her.

A student of Class V, Lilawati comes from a village in Danapur, Bihar. The girl from the backward Musahar community says: "We rarely got our fill (at home)."

But now, "when I get good food, I feel really happy," she says. That is because Lilawati stays and studies in Prerna Chhatravas that Sister Sudha started for poor girls.

Prerna Chhatravas is home to around a hundred girls, mostly from the Musahar community in Danapur. But the school would not have been possible, had Sister Sudha not started Nari Gunjan 20 years ago.

At Nari Gunjan, most girls are first-generation learners who have to acquire grade III-level competence before being sent to regular schools. Centre in-charge Asha Devi says: “All these girls face tremendous pressure to get married. But now they have found the voice. Now they are role models back in their villages.”

Sister Sudha, who has won a Padmashree, says: "It came in small steps. We fought inch by inch to restore their dignity and create self belief. And it came despite the open discrimination practised by people all around."

Aged between six and 16, the girls come from homes where their education is frowned upon.

Sister Sudha, who adopted the village of Jamsaut her home, supports 50 educational centres in Danapur and Phulwarisharif areas with support from the government and Unicef. Around 100 girls are selected from them to study at Prerna Chhatravas.

“Once some criminals told me, I would be killed the next day. I told them if they do, there will be hundreds like me to carry on with the work that they had come to hate,” she said.