Until recently, Prashanthini was known to her family and neighbors as a timid girl who could hardly look a person in the eye. Her turning point came the day her school library was transformed with colorful books donated through Room to Read’s Local Language Publishing program.
As the only girl born into a family of laborers of Tamil origin (an ethnic minority in Sri Lanka), Prashanthini’s chances of receiving an education were bleak. In fact, it was her elder brother who received all their parents’ encouragement and support to pursue schooling.
Disappointed, but undeterred, Prashanthini enrolled in the Malaimakal Tamil Vidyalayam school and plodded along the long road to school each day with dogged determination. But even so, she remained painfully shy and did not participate in any class activities.
Prashanthini vividly recollects the day that changed -- it was the day she discovered the book, Equal Rights for Rani Wins the Day. What amazed her about the book were the similarities between her life and that of the main character, Rani. It told the inspiring story about how despite all the setbacks Rani encountered, she still managed to achieve her goals. Prashanthini was so impressed and overjoyed with the story that she said she read the book more than five times!
Finding herself newly inspired and emboldened, Prashanthini began to work harder in school. She set goals for herself and gained the confidence to make new friends.
“If I had not received this opportunity from Room to Read, I would not have these books to read and I would have remained illiterate and unmotivated,” says Prashanthini.
The change has been so dramatic and swift that Prashanthini’s entire community has noticed -– especially her parents who are now very proud of their daughter’s academic success and know both Rani, and Prashanthini have "won the day."