When border guards stopped her escape to India, Maheshwori Nepali was furious.

“I felt very angry that they were holding me up and asking me so many questions,” she says.

Born into one of Nepal’s lowest castes — the Dalits — she was seeking the promise of a better life over the border.

“In my village, we have very severe untouchability stigma,” she says.

“We have no access to the higher castes … they do not even go to the well to get water if I’ve used it.

“Also, there is no work for us.”

So when an older family friend offered to take her across the border to study in India at age 19, she jumped at the opportunity.