Village Bautha is a very small village in District Hardoi of Uttar Pradesh with a population of just over 2,500 ; majority of them belonging to disadvantaged sections of the society.

Even though the Primary school is located in the village itself, you can, during what would be the normal school hours, see the children sitting orderly under the shadow of trees with their books, notebooks and pencils. It’s a school-cum-classroom run by Ms. Anita Devi for young children of the village.

 A young girl managing and running a school in a small village almost entirely on her own would seem to be a difficult task to most of us. But to Anita, it is  simply a  matter of giving it back to the community. She is a pass out  student from UDAAN- an acclerated learning program supported by CARE, specially designed for out of school, never enrolled and dropout girls. Anita is a student from fifth batch of UDAAN that passed out in 2005. One of her teachers in UDAAN still fondly remembers her as a sincere and passionate student.

Anita remembers her early schooling days when she had to walk a few kilometers to reach the school. She would have been left with no option but to drop out had it not been for UDAAN, she says. After passing out from UDAAN, she continued her education and managed to do her post-graduation against all odds. Unassumingly, she credits UDAAN for all she is doing today. “In UDAAN, it was not simply a matter of learning how to read and write. I grew up into a more confident girl inspired to do something meaningful in life. UDAAN helped me in learning many valuable lessons of life and I take it as my responsibility to do whatever I can for bringing about a positive change in society” she says proudly.

She particularly loves seeing the young girls of her school learning and feeling good about themselves. “We need to focus on girls if we want to grow” she says. With this in mind, she continuously motivates villagers to allow their daughters to pursue higher education.

Children from even nearby villages come to this school to study, and the resource materials and study books are passed on from batch to batch. Villagers take pride in  Anita’s work and support her in this endeavour. To CARE and the UDAAN Team, Anita is a symbol of the change they are all striving for.

Dr. Vandana Mishra