When the whole of India went into a sudden COVID-19 lockdown last year Uzma Bano’s first thought was: “I won’t be able to go to school.”

Learning was something the 7th grader always looked forward to. The classroom was a daily escape from the confines of her home in the capital Delhi–a single 150-square-feet room she shares with her parents and elder brother, Shahi.

Uzma’s father Shakeel Ahmed earns around USD 6 a day as a carpenter or laborer when he can find shift work. With so little, surviving is tough. But unlike other poor families who often rely on their children to skip classes to earn extra cash, the Ahmeds always made sure their kids attended lessons.

“It’s the only way I can ensure they will

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