Meet Radhika and Yashoda – two sisters who live in a remote village in the Himalayas. It takes them 2-3 hours to get to school depending on the weather. That might not sound like a big deal, lots of people all over the world have long commutes. Well, Radhika and Yashoda don’t have access to any kind of convenient transportation for most of their journey. To get an education, these two teenagers must literally trek to school. They must trek through a forest where wild animals can appear out of nowhere, especially in the morning. They once saw a wild bear and have been scared ever since.
After two hours of trekking, they have to cross a fast moving river. There’s no bridge (it was destroyed due to floods a few years ago) so they have to get into a small metal trolley suspended by a cable. Quite daunting as there’s gushing water below and the trolley must be operated manually by pulling a rope. It takes a lot of strength, especially when it rains because when the rope is wet it’s harder to pull. People have fallen into this river. People have lost fingers by accidentally touching the overhead cable (and the trolley has many sharp edges).
Not only do these brave girls worry about their safety, they also worry about getting their clothes dirty. Their hands get dirty enough from opering the trolley but they don’t want their nice white trousers to get stained. Oh but before they even get to the river, they have to trek for two hours as I mentioned, and the footpath (where they trek) is filled with loose stones. They have to be careful not to fall and hurt their hands, because they won’t be able to operate the trolley or be able to write properly in school.
Yashoda wants to become a police officer. Radhika wants to be a teacher and teach all the kids in her village. They don’t want to get married in their teens like their mother and aunts did, and do housework all their lives. That’s why they trek to school every day. After they cross the river, they wait for a taxi to take them to school. And they don’t have to wait till the next day to do this all over again – they have to go through the same perilous journey while going home from school. Their parents worry about their daughters’ safety every single day and are not at peace until their daughters return home in the evening.
On the upside the mountain scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. During the monsoons they see many tiny waterfalls while traversing through the forest. In the winter when the leaves are falling from trees, it looks like nature has laid out a red carpet to welcome somebody important (Those are Yashoda’s words). And the girls can even drink water that’s made its way down from the mountains – water that is actually pure and fresh unlike the crap bottled water companies sell.
They’ve asked their father to rent a room closer to school but he tells them he can’t afford it. Some teachers scold the girls for being late and tell them that they should live closer to the school if they are serious about their studies. But those teachers are seriously blind if they can’t see how dedicated these girls are. Not many kids would be able to do what Radhika and Yashoda are doing.