Uma Maheshwari is a proud mother today. Her daughter Harshita S. has scored 93 per cent in the SSLC examinations.

They were both victims of dowry harassment back in 1998. Just 18 months at the time, Harshita had clung to her mother when her father had set them both ablaze. She suffered 18 per cent facial burns while Ms. Uma was more severely injured.

An organisation working for women had referred Ms. Uma for rehabilitation to the Sumanahalli Society, an organisation that works with patients of leprosy and HIV and people with disabilities. She was trained in candle making and then absorbed as a staff member in 2003. The salary she received was all the support she had to take care of her family.

When Harshita was old enough to go to school, they came up against another hurdle. She was rejected by several schools because of the burn marks on her face. They refused her admission saying that other students would not attend school if she was admitted. Finally, it was Tirumala Vidyaniketan in Malleswaram that opened the doors for the child.

Harshita’s education expenses was borne by Sumanahalli Society. Though she never met her father after that, her scars remained.

Fifteen years on, life is looking up. Harshita has a dream for the future. “I want to become a doctor so that I can treat people who undergo what my mother did,” she told The Hindu on Tuesday. “I am going to apply for PCMB (physics, chemistry, maths, biology) stream in PU to pursue my dream,” she said, adding that she had no preference in the choice of colleges. “My mother cannot afford to send me to a top college. I am okay as long as I get to study,” she said.

Call Sumanahalli Society at 23580228/23485317.