I spent a couple of hours this afternoon with about 15 of my final year students who are getting ready for final year placement drive scheduled early next week. After giving some general instructions, I was kind of giving individual attention to see what are they passionate about, do they have a point of view, any core interest etc. As I was going around speaking to them, it was a turn of these two girls from Trichy and both coming from two remote villages. One of them started by saying “Sir, I don’t know if this means anything to the interview panel but both of us are the only two girls from our respective villages to ever get into a college. No other girl from our village has continued after 12th std. Invariably they would be married off even before they finish 12th std”. My eyebrows went up and was telling myself – Wow this is awesome and these kids don’t even know how much they can inspire others. I followed up with my next question…”So tell me, how did you manage to convince your parents” and back came the reply in a flash. “Sir, they started looking for a boy when I finished my 9th standard. I realized the only way to get out of this trap was to study well and gave my best. I scored 484/500 and came first in my Taluk. Everyone appreciated me and more importantly my parents and hence I convinced them to send me to school further. I used the same logic for my 12th standard as well and scored very good marks and thankfully Maatram Foundation admitted us into college and hence the next 4 years was kind of taken care of. Now I do have a challenge…I need to get a good job to be on my own and then get married. My need to get a job is a very different from the others. I have always used education as a tool to escape from child marriage and managed to do it successfully for 7 years now and hopefully I will get a good job”. I was silent for a while and was thinking to myself…while we have students who get educated to get a good job, settle down in life etc…here are two girls who used Education as a power tool to fight child marriage and convince their parents to send them for higher studies. To my last question to all the students “Why do you need this job”… obviously the best reply came from these two girls “Sir…I can’t explain in words what can happen if we land up in a good job. It will give so much hope to other girls in my village and we will do whatever it takes to encourage them to dream big”. Listening to them…my day was made and I am pretty confident that these girls will make it big. These are the fighters we encounter every day and they are simply the best #MaatramFoundation #PowerofEducation

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