‘I know what it is like when you want to study and can’t – when I was young only the boys in my village were allowed to go to school. When I finally convinced my father that I wanted to go too, I was the only girl in a class of 26 boys. Education teaches you to read beyond the letters and the words – if you cannot read between the lines, then what’s the point of studying?’
Madhuri Kumari is a village ‘Pradhan’, an elected village leader in Fakirpuri village, Bahraich District, Uttar Pradesh. Madhuri struggled to go to school when she was young; she was the only girl in a class of 26 boys. Madhuri used to walk six kilometers to school by herself, through the thick forest.
As Madhuri grew, she knew she wanted to stay in school though her father constantly opposed her, so she did odd jobs for her neighbours to be able to pay for her school supplies.
Soon, with the money she saved, she opened a small grocery shop. Everyone in the village knew who Madhuri was, they knew she had struggled to go to school, that with a small shop she had managed to save enough money to build her own house – and she was so helpful to everyone that people soon asked her to be their leader.
When Madhuri stood for elections, she won and she was only 21 years old.
For the past six years, Madhuri has been busy building roads, installing a drainage system in the village, adding new classrooms to the Government School and encouraging children to go to school in her village. If families cannot afford to send their children to school, then Madhuri quietly pays for their supplies.
Madhuri is well respected in her village, today, she is 27 years old.