Pune: Seventeen-year-old Anita's little sister helps her wash her bike everyday in the hopes of getting a quick joyride. But for Anita, the cycle is more than just a form of transport. It's an engine of change.
"Initially, I was studying in a Marathi medium school in Sone Sanghvi, but since last three years I have been coming to this place. I used to walk and got late every day. Even my teacher used to get angry. But ever since I have got my cycle, I am able to reach on time,” says Anita.
Traveling to a school seven kms away was an uphill task for many teenage girls in the Shirur taluka of Maharashtra. Until bicycles came their way through an NGO called "Ashta No Kai" which means 'a better future'.
It's founder Armene Modi wanted to raise the literacy level among women in Shirur. So she started a bicycle bank, to help young girls take the road less traveled.
"We started to give to girls at a very nominal cost of Rs 300 deposit. When the girl finished high school we asked her to return the bicycle and recycled it to another girl,” says Armene Modi.
According to Armene, the bank has brought about a visible change in the girls attitudes.
"We have visibly seen a decrease in the drop out rate and we have visible seen the marriage age of girls increasing,” says Armene.
Initially, Armene faced a lot of resistance from the villagers. Now there are more takers than donors for these prized vehicles. Armene says even though the literacy rate of girls has risen in Shirur her work is far from done. She wants every girl in Shirur to ride her way to success.
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