Ask either of her brothers or her parents and they will tell you that 7-year-old Rani rules the house.
“My Rani is a strong-willed and courageous girl,” her mother, Sara, tells me in the family’s modest, two-room house in the town of Dhenkanal, India. “She comes home and tells us everything she does in school.”
As a top student, Rani never misses a day of class and has become among her teachers’ favorite pupils. During recess, she likes to play sports with the boys and has even cut her hair short because “girls can have short hair too.” With a sparkle in her eyes, she tells me that she wants to grow up and become a doctor, in part so she can help take care of her parents.
Her mother tears up talking about her only daughter. She tells me that Rani is a bright child, but they can’t afford to give her extra tuition like some of her other friends.
“Whenever I feel bad and cry about not being able to afford things for Rani, she gets very angry,” Sara says. “She tells me that when she grows up she will take care of her father and me. She promises me that her father will never have to do any hard labor once she grows up.”