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Apeksha Bagchi

IWB Blogger

Rutuja Bhoite, Autorickshaw Driver’s Daughter, Fights All Odds To Head To Thailand For Higher Studies

  • IWB Post
  •  August 10, 2018


The daughter of an autorickshaw driver in Kondhwa, Pune,17-year-old Rutuja Bhoite, who has lived with leukoderma (loss of skin color) and was once afraid to speak and face people, today has been accepted in United World’s College (UWC) in Thailand on a full-time scholarship. She’ll be the first in her family to travel and study abroad and will begin her sessions this month.

“I’m going with a feeling of pride,” she said. “I’ve worked hard, done the best I could with the tasks given to me. So this is a token of gratitude I’m giving myself.”

A shy, but focused student, her life changed when in May 2013 she was selected as the protagonist of Teach For India’s (TFI) Broadway-style musical Maya. “Everything changed after Maya came into my life. My journey to being an extrovert started there,” she said. “I learned the values of courage, compassion, and wisdom. I learned to open up, mingle with new people.” Her understanding about education changed and the “pressure to score high marks stopped making sense.”

It was during the training that she met a student who had completed her UWC course in Italy which inspired her to follow her example. She went through the tough two-stage selection process, involving a test, a personal interview, a faculty interview, a team-building activity and a group discussion. On March 29th this year, she got the news of her selection in UWC where she will be studying biology, maths and French for two years. In the future, she wants to work in the educational sector to “experiment with curriculum and teaching styles, in different schools.”

As for her family, they are more than happy as they had never even dared to dream of being able to provide their children with higher education with their income of Rs. 10,000 per month.

“She’s going so far away,” said Rutuja’s mother. “I’ve seen her struggle with leukoderma; the treatment was painful. But she never stopped studying, come what may. I have always wanted for her to not feel less than anyone else. There was a time when people saw her differently, but not anymore.”

Her father has only one wish for his daughter. “She should study as much as she wants. There’s always time for marriage!” he said.

Karthik R.G, former TFI fellow, remembers Rutuja as a shy, unsure girl when he met her in 2015, but was good at academics as well as co-curricular and extra-curricular activities. She is also humble and has leadership potential, he said. “We are just catalysts. People like Rutuja will go places. She is a role model for others.”

“During Maya, we always said, ‘Find your light’. It means, find your potential. It means taking what you have learnt, outside,” said Rutuja.

H/T: The Hindu 

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