15-Year-Old Girl Cycles 750 Miles To Take Her Ailing Dad Back Home In Lockdown

15-Year-Old Girl Cycles 750 Miles To Take Her Ailing Dad Back Home In Lockdown

Jyoti's epic and daring quest to see that her father was safely back home has landed her much praise from the media and celebrities alike.

The coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent shutting down of businesses and services have affected some sections of the populace far more than others. In a country like India, people from the countryside had left their homes in search of jobs in cities and towns. After the pandemic was declared and the subcontinent nation went under lockdown, millions were left stranded and couldn't find a way to get back home. 

Jyoti Kumari, a 15-year-old girl has defied all the odds and ended up pedaling her injured father over 700 miles on a bicycle. The girl used the last $20 she had to buy a pink bicycle and she took on the reins herself as her father was hurt. Together, they traveled the long distance to their home village across India, NY Times reports. This was truly a heroic, and life-saving journey and Jyoti's story deserves all the recognition it can get. 



Her epic and daring quest to see that her father was safely back home has landed Jyoti much praise from the media and celebrities alike. It began back in January when Kumari's father, Mohan Paswan, a local autorickshaw driver, was injured in a traffic accident. He had lived in Gurugram, a populated suburb of the National Capital Region (NCR), and used to work long hours commuting passengers on his motorized three-wheeled vehicle. With the money he earned from this work, he used to support his wife and children in the eastern state of Bihar which was over 700 miles away from his workplace. 



After Paswan's accident, however, he was unable to drive and desperately needed care. So Kumari left her village in Bihar, hopped on a cross-country train, and moved in with her old man to nurse him back to health. After the coronavirus pandemic hit, it was a whole other scenario, however. The nationwide lockdown that followed meant that even though Paswan had mostly recovered from his injuries, he was unable to resume his old job. He couldn't send any more money home and could no longer even afford the rent of his tiny room, which he was sharing with his daughter.  By early May, almost 2 months into the lockdown, they had the equivalent of about $20 left. "We were being evicted. We were running out of food," she told local TV. "So I said, 'Papa, let's go. Let's use the last of our money to buy a bicycle and pedal home."



"I said, 'How could we possibly go that far — the two of us on one bicycle?' " Paswan told NPR in a phone interview. "But she convinced me. If we stayed, we would have starved to death. We had to at least try." "There were so many things running through my mind. I was scared. Would we make it?" Kumari told another local TV reporter. "My arms and legs were aching, but I got strength and courage from all the people we met along the way." The effort proved to not go in vain, as after seven days on the road, the two of them reached their native village of Sirhulli on May 15. 



Jyoti's extraordinary story is part of a much bigger issue being faced by migrant laborers all over India. That's right, in India, those traveling from one state to another in search of jobs are also known as migrants. There have been millions of Indians who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and there is a massive economic recovery that needs to happen quickly. 


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