Maya is a brave young student from Veerayatan. She grew up in a very poor village. She has no father and her mother is blind. Maya is currently thirteen and has been studying at Veerayatan for the past four years through a sponsorship program set up by the school for girls from impoverished communities. When she first arrived at Veerayatan, Maya says she “was astonished to see such a big school!” She participated in many stage programs because of her interest in and talent for dancing.
At the age of eleven, while continuing her studies at Veerayatan, Maya found out from her mother and uncle that she was engaged to be married. She was going to be forced into wedlock with a 23 year old man, whom she also learned was an alcoholic who gambled excessively. Maya was scared and didn’t want to return home to the marriage obligation that awaited her.
Maya found shelter and safety at Veerayatan. The sadhvis at the school pledged to fully support her education and let her stay with them while she fought against her arranged marriage. Maya’s bravery also allowed her to successfully protect her younger sister from her child engagement as well.
At Veerayatan, Maya’s courage was fostered and nurtured, and thus she was given the confidence to face huge challenges. Says Maya, “If I do this, if my one courageous step can stop ruining the lives of many other girls in my village…other girls would be able to think that this can also be done, and we don’t need to tolerate these atrocities in our lives.”
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