Ranchi: This Jharkhand girl cycled 24 kilometres every day to and from her school. And today, Neelu Kumari has made her village in Latehar district proud by clearing the matriculation examination in the first division.
But there's much more than that. Neelu is from the Dalit community and her Karmatand village is hit by Maoist insurgency. There's no high school there and no electricity either. Not an ideal situation for a youngster to pursue her studies.
But Neelu was adamant and spared no efforts. She was duly supported in this endeavour by her mother Bhagia Devi and brother Fhalgun Ganjhu.
The family ensured that Neelu was enrolled in the high school 12 kilometres away at Fulsu village.
It is then that the bicycle given to students like her by the state government came handy.
Travelling to the school and back home was not easy. Besides the distance, the road was uneasy -- Neelu had to negotiate the forests and the hilly terrain, braving heat, rain and cold as the seasons changed.
But she never gave up.
Every day Neelu left home two hours before the classes began so as to reach the school on time. After attending classes she would complete her homework before sunset and then head back home -- cycling once again.
In the matriculation examination Neelu has scored 241 out of a total 500 marks. Her success has now inspired 17 other girls in the village who are also aiming to clear the matriculation examination. Their parents are hopeful that life will be better as their daughters get educated.
It's no mean feat in a region where most of the girls drop out of schools due to long distances, lack of transport and basic facilities like a toilet.
But all of that is changing. The cloud of despair is disappearing slowly here, thanks to Neelu. The government has now upgraded the Project Primary School where Neelu studied till Class Five into a High School.
Neelu's achievement comes at a time when the Jharkhand government announced that it will upgrade infrastructure in the schools across the state. Several new degree colleges will also be established. With the state all set to boost the education sector, Neelu's story will be a dazzling example of grit and courage.
In the vast map of India, Karmatand village is not even a tiny dot. But today, everyone in Jharkhand knows about this place, because of Neelu and her determination. And hopefully she will not be the only one. There will be many more like her who will overcome all the odds to shine bright.