Being the eldest daughter of a lorry driver was never a deterrent for young Jayashree (name changed) to nurture dreams of becoming a graduate. And, when she scored proficient marks in Standard X, this dream did not seem too distant. With a father who shared her dreams, she was sure of joining a college. But fate decided otherwise. Her father died of heart attack when Jayashree was yet to complete Plus-One.

The family, consisting of the widowed mother and two girls, was left with no means. Jayashree’s mother was going through a spell of mild memory loss and had to undergo treatment. As she was limping back to normalcy, she had to get work on daily wages to make both ends meet. But she did not stop the girls from going to school.

However, abject poverty made Jayashree’s mother take the extraordinary step of deciding to marry off her 17-year-old daughter as soon as she completed her Plus-Two. With no knowledge of this, Jayashree with a total of 934 out of 1,200 in her Plus-Two looked forward to take up commerce as her degree course. So, it came as a rude shock when her mother told her of the decision to marry her off.

With no one to turn to for help, Jayashree was left with no option but to accept her fate.

But her determination to become a graduate gave her the courage to rewrite it. With just 10 days left for her marriage to a 23-year old man who had only completed high school, she approached the Tahsildar’s office and narrated her plight to the staff, requesting confidentiality.

Government authorities took necessary steps, and her marriage was stopped. Both the family members were made to sign an affidavit stating that Jayashree would not be married before the age of 18. Jayashree's mother and neighbours were at a loss. They did not know who the complainant was.

A happy Jayashree did not stop with that. She borrowed some money from one of the neighbours and got herself admitted to a college that too in the course of her choice. Her mother was a mute witness to her daughter’s activities.

Only when the officials of the Department of Social Welfare counselled Jayashree, did they came to know that it was the girl herself who had done the rescue act.

With their efforts, today Jayashree’s education is fully sponsored by “Save Our Daughters” movement. Her first semester fees have been reimbursed, and she has already returned the loan.

But it is still an arduous task for this determined girl. “My mother’s daily wage is Rs. 150. We get this amount when she goes to work. Our daily needs and my younger sister’s education are met with this. I am planning to get a part-time job to supplement the family income,” she says.

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