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5 Friends, 1 Mission – Preventing Child Marriage

A decade into the new millennium, and somewhere in the remote corners of the Satgawan Block in Koderma, Jharkhand, a group of five friends were getting ready to go for a wedding one summer morning. The mood was buoyant and the fun was yet to begin. They arranged for the presents for the bride and reached the venue at the village of Puthodih. But the bride was nowhere to be seen! When it was time for them to leave, upon their insisting, the mother of the groom arrived carrying the three year old bride in her arms. The little one had fallen asleep from the sheer exhaustion of the day’s proceedings.

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shubham

From Darkness to Light

Shivam, lovingly known as Shubham, is a dedicated young student from KunchiKurve Nagar near Kalina in Mumbai.

He was about to quit education and therefore give up his chance to a better life when he got his eye hurt while playing with his siblings. He took care of it by going to the nearby dispensary where he was prescribed an eye drop. His condition deteriorated but Shubham and his family were optimistic that within a matter of time, the pain would subside so he resumed his daily activity of going to school.

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Siya Dulari

She turned it around – And how!

Siya Dulari’s story could have been about a child bride who at the age of 14 years found herself abandoned by her spouse…and with 3 children to look after…and like innumerable such stories her life would have been remembered as an endless saga of suffering.

But Siya Dulari gave her story a different turn…She enrolled herself for schooling and higher studies and completed her graduation.

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Ujjawal

I cycled 2500 km for CRY, here’s why

Each one of us has gone through the anguish of having to witness children begging at traffic lights. Their eyes are filled with hopes shrouded by misery and helplessness. In between these 60 seconds of glimpse into violated lives, we take out a coin from our pocket to give it to them. That coin is allegoric to the pity that brims our heart for these children. But with this act, we comfort ourselves that we did our share for them.

In this case, we turn ourselves emotionally blind, to refuse innately to work for them. Thinking that apart from giving that coin, there is nothing we are capable of, or can do to bring long-term change.

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Jayam

Do not let History Repeat Itself with Child Slavery

As a Dalit girl, Jayam Manohar was a victim of various inhuman practices. Life was not easy for her in a community where a semi-feudal system is still prevalent. She was treated as an untouchable. Her family was a victim of bonded labour, a system which traps marginalised Dalit families into a lifelong cycle of indebtedness thereby, leading to the denial of every right of children and family members. They are forced to work for long hours without wages and have no access to education. As a child, Jayam was forced to work as a bonded labourer for almost 15-16 hours a day. Thanks to feeble laws in the country, not enough actions were taken to stop child labour.

Later, poverty and the social pressure made her a child bride. The sex ratio of her district was 929 against the state ratio of 972 and the child sex ratio was 918 in the district against the state ratio of 946. In such a social setting, she was also forced to undergo female foeticide. It is hard to see that there has never been a child education plan in the process but only marriage.

Her experiences as a child bride, child labourer and a victim of female foeticide and un-touchability have fueled her efforts to bring to light the plight of people and children ruthlessly crushed under these practices.

She started working for others in her community because she had an urge to interact with other people who went through circumstances similar to hers. She decided to personally ask people whether any of their family members were a victim of such social evils. This constant questioning helped her fathom the gravity of these issues.

Jayam now spearheads the Salem People Trust (SPT), a non government organization (NGO) that works for the most marginalised, especially children. Her team consists of people who have been victims of exploitation. She works extensively against bonded labour, female foeticide, infant mortality, child labour, child marriage and illiteracy. Owing to her experience, she is now aware of every single nuance related to such issues. She has been consistently fighting against child slavery.

Through her efforts, 28 families were brought out of bonded labour and 98 children from these families were enrolled in schools. 227 children were re-enrolled in school including 60 child labour from bonded labour families. 28 parents of child labourers were enrolled in MNREGA. 140 part time child labourers and dropouts were re-enrolled in schools.

She has prevented 86 female foeticides and 34 infant foeticide in the past four years. Her persistent efforts resulted in a scan centre in Vazhapadi to shut down because it was undertaking sex determination test and performing female foeticide. Over the last five years, Jayam was able to completely stop the practice of delivering babies at home. She stopped five Dhais (local midwives) from undertaking female foeticides and home deliveries. She prevented 16 child marriages by counselling the parents and panchayat leaders, and motivated them to enrol children in HSS.

These are just a few of her many accomplishments. Jayam is still not satisfied with her impact. She is determined to do a lot more and ensure that government addresses these issues and helps change the whole scenario. Her experience and commitment to the cause are visible in her work.

Do you want to create more stories of change? As a citizen, you can donate and help a child have a fruitful life. Donate for children as they need help to grow and lead a better life.

Salem Peoples Trust is a project supported by CRY and Genius Consultants Pvt. Ltd.