A 15-year-old girl from a village in Eastern India went on a 745-mile or 1,200-kilometer bicycle journey home with her disabled father. Her story has garnered international praise.
The girl's sacrifice
Jyoti Kumari, reflected on her experience and told The Associated Press that she had no other option because the would not have survived if she had not cycled to their village.
Kumari shared that if she and her father stayed in Gurugram, they would have starved. Gurugram is a suburb in New Delhi, India, and there was no way for them to have a source of income due to the strict coronavirus lockdown in the country. Kumari's father had a terrible accident that left him unable to walk before the pandemic he drove an auto-rickshaw for a living.
However, all nonessential travel was banned in the country, so he is now one of the millions of people who are unemployed. Their landlord demanded rent but they could not pay and their landlord threatened to evict them. The incident led Kumari to decided to purchase a bicycle and make her way home, just like what other Indian migrants have done since March.
Kumari pedaled for 10 straight days regardless of the heat, and her father rode on the back of the hot-pink bike. Both of them survived on food and water that were given to them by strangers, and she was able to catch a break when a truck driver gave them a lift. Kumari and her father arrived in their village, Darbhanga, located in Bihar state, just last week.
They reunited with Kumari's mother and her brother-in-law, who had left the capital region after the lockdown began on March 25. Kumari is an eighth-grade student who moved to Gurugram in January so that she can take care of her father.
Kumari told The Associated Press that she is still exhausted from the trip as the journey was difficult since the travel was long and the weather was too hot. The only thing that kept her going was her aim to reach home.
As soon as they arrived, the village officials placed her and her father in a quarantine center. It was a policy that numerous local and state governments in India have implemented to keep migrants who returned home from spreading the virus.The two are now quarantining at their home.
Coronavirus update in India
India is now on its second month of lockdown, and it appears to have worked as the cases have not increased in the past few weeks. The steady coronavirus cases bought the country time to expand their intensive care unit capacity and to build up reserves of medical supplies.
As of May 2020, India has 125, 102 coronavirus cases, and 3,867 deaths. However, the strict lockdown has triggered another crisis, as thousands of poor people are traveling to distant villages all on foot, carrying their family members on their shoulders or slumping them over suitcases.
Dozens of people have died on their journey, they were either struck by trucks or trains or they died from hunger or suicide. The expansive railway system of India was closed to passenger service. Planes, buses, and taxis were also banned.
However, just this month, the government resumed limited train travel for those who want to return home. According to Time, the government has been easing the restrictions in the past few weeks since India's economy relies mostly on informal sector jobs, and the sudden halt of those businesses crippled them.
Kumari added that she heard about the trains, but her father can't walk and he would not have been able to reach the railway platform. That what when she decided that they would take a bike instead. The journey of Kumari caught the attention of the Cycling Federation of India.
The organization offered to give her a spot for a tryout next month in New Delhi, as the organization sends teams to the Olympics. Even the daughter of U.S President Donald Trump, Ivanka Trump. heard about her journey and called it a beautiful feat of endurance and love on her Twitter account.