Every morning, Geeta Baria reaches the banks of the Hiran at 7 am sharp, carrying her school books in a plastic bag. The Class IX girl from Sajanpura village in the tribal-dominated Chhota Udepur district of Gujarat also carries a Gohri, a 20-litre brass pot. The pot is precious as without it she and her five friends — all girls — can’t reach their school. They hold on to the pot to stay afloat and cross the 600 metre-wide river.
Drenched, the girls wring their churidaar-kurta uniforms before reaching out for their slippers.
Every day, the father of one of the girls volunteers to swim with them across the river. It takes them 30 minutes to cross the river — and reach Sewada village. They then have to walk 5 km to their school, the Utavadi Prathmik and Uchh Prathmik Shala in Utavadi village.
About 125 children from 16 tribal villages of Sankheda taluka — Sajanpura, Chamarwada, Vasan, Angadi, Kashipura, Kukreli, Doodhpur, Nandpur, Sitaphali, Devla, Surajgola, Hatgol and Dharmapura among others — cross the raging Hiran every day to get to the school.
The students then sit through classes, in their drenched uniform, and make the journey back home in Sankheda at 5 pm, taking the same water route.
~ [Source] Photos: Bhupendra Rana