Sumitra is a class 10 student living in Bordi, a coastal village in western India. She had to quit school in order to look after her paralysed father, but a bicycle changed all that.
“When I got my new bicycle, it felt really good. I was really happy. Earlier, it took a long time to reach school, because I had to walk. The bicycle saves me a lot of time,” she says.
Her benefactor, Dr Suwas Darvekar, understands this too well. Brought up in a slum, Dr Suwas says he missed a lot of classes, because he could not afford the bus fare.
“The biggest issue was going from the house to the school,” says Dr Suwas. “A lot of people in the slum helped me with the bus fee to reach school. And that is how I could complete my studies.”
These days, the Mumbai dentist and avid cyclist wants to repay the kindness he received as a boy. He is on a mission to help as many children finish school.
Through the Sangeeta Darvekar Charitable Trust and donations from family, friends and supporters, Dr Suwas has empowered hundreds of tribal children in Palghar district with their own two-wheelers.
The principal of SPH School, Asha Vartak, explains, “Dr Suwas told the children to come to school… Their attendance is 100%. Even a humble cycle can teach us a lot. And we learned this through Dr (Suwas).”
Donor and volunteer, Dr Dharmaji Shinde, says, “If I can take one student (who was going to drop out of school) to the college level, not just one child, but a whole family is uplifted.”
For Sumitra, her bicycle has brought her closer to building a better life for her family and herself, and her dream of becoming a doctor.
“No one in my family has even been to school. That’s why I want to study. So that we don’t have to live in poverty anymore,” she says. “With my education, I could achieve something in life.”
“Come what may, I won’t leave school.”
To find out how you can help, check out the full story by Our Better World.