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Armene Modi, the film director of Pedal=Sight, wanted to raise the literacy level in young women in Shirur, India. Bicycles were the answer.
“If you are uneducated, then it is as if you only have one eye.”

COMMUNITY HERO:
PEDAL = SIGHT
by Amanda Molinaro


In Sone Sangvi, India, families understand the importance of education. However, getting an education is challenging for many children. Most villages only have schools up to grade seven, and there are only three high schools to serve ten villages. When the children are ready to go to high school, the boys are given bicycles to take them to school. However, because girls are married young, it’s considered a waste to invest in a bicycle for a girl.

Armene Modi is a film director who had spent a couple of years focusing on adult women and literacy in Sone Sangvi. While she was there, she noticed that many of the girls there were very young and were already wearing mangalsutra. The mangalsutra is a gold and black beaded necklace which is worn by women as a symbol of matrimony. Many of the girls had babies on their hips and Modi began wondering “What’s going on? Why are such young girls married off already?”

She began investigating, and discovered that the high schools were more than an hour away from the villages. When boys completed grade seven, their family would buy them a bicycle to ensure they received a good education. With a bicycle, the commute to the high school would only be fifteen minutes. However, when girls completed grade seven they would not receive bicycles and would have to walk to school. The walk was an hour each way, and when they got home they would have to take care of chores. Because of their chores, they didn’t have a lot of time to study and many weren’t able to continue going to school. When Modi asked why girls weren’t given bicycles to get to school, she was told, “It's a waste of money to give a bicycle to a girl. She's going to turn around and get married."

When Modi heard this, she thought, “My God, if it's only a bicycle that's keeping girls from going to school, let's go ahead and give it to them.”

One of the girls who received a bike was a 14-year-old girl named Bharati Phakad Date. Now she can ride to school in 15 minutes and is very motivated about learning. She hopes to be a district supervisor so she can make decisions to help other people. “There are a lot of people who live on the streets,” she says. “I will help them. There are so many people in this world who do not even get one meal a day. I will help them…. I want to eradicate poverty from this country.”





Written by Amanda Molinaro
Last changed on: 9/8/2011 11:05:43 AM

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