Her cry broke through the steady monsoon rains. In a rural village 3 hours outside Hyderabad, India, on a humid, July morning in 2002, V. Bindu, entered the world.
Her parents, agricultural workers of the Banjara tribe, spend their days doing the labor intensive work of rice farming. But today they enjoy the sweet first moments with their brown-haired girl. Tomorrow her father will return to the fields, resigned to the belief his present reality is his daughter’s future.
More than 3,000 years old, India’s caste system is among the world’s oldest surviving forms of stratification. A caste system is determined by birth and is based on the Hindu conception of social order; in Indian society, if your parents are poor, you’re going to be poor, too (bbc.com). If your parents are rice farmers, you will become a rice farmer.
At fourteen, many of V. Bindu’s peers are in the process of being prepared for marriage – because of societal expectations and for their protection. With an estimated 47% of Indian girls married before the age of 18, India has the highest number of child brides in the world (girlsnotbrides.org).
Because of her parents’ love and dreams of a better life for their girl, V. Bindu is forging a different path: one which began five years ago when her parents made the decision to send their daughter off, desperate to help her break free from the confines of a pre-determined future through better education.
V. Bindu’s laughter fills the air as she rides bikes through the Suzuki Samuel India Hope Campus with her friends. Confident and assertive, fourteen-year-old V. Bindu is benefitting from Back2Back’s family-styled care which nurtures the whole child.
On a hot, dry day, V. Bindu wakes up and splashes cold water on her face. She carefully pulls her school uniform from her dresser and proudly puts it on. Today, her work will not be alongside her parents in the rice field. Rather, she will work in the classroom toward achieving her big dreams.
V. Bindu wants to be a doctor in a country where less than 6% of physicians are women. Becoming a doctor is a difficult road to traverse in any country, but becoming a doctor in India is extraordinarily competitive and expensive; a path requiring exceptional academic performance, and scoring well on the Medical Entrance Exam. In a country of 1.3 billion people, anything worth having in India requires competitive spirit.
V. Bindhu readies herself for the school day with a healthy breakfast, one last review of yesterday’s homework, a hug from her caregiver, and a group prayer with her friends.
As she is advancing in school, V. Bindu realizes grading is more stringent, and she has to adjust her study habits. But she is not deterred. When something is difficult, she works hard, with her peers and tutors to rise and meet the challenge of growing intellectually. She taps into the support system surrounding her, working regularly with her tutor through difficult homework assignments.
V. Bindu is a young woman who dreams boldly because hope has paved the way for radical change. She is already demonstrating the resiliency necessary for the long road ahead of her. Her life impacts the younger girls in the home, modeling for them what was once modeled for her: dream above what you can imagine and sacrifice for the future. Hers is a story to watch.