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Story of change

Together, we’ve empowered thousands of children and successfully gave them a safe and secured childhood. We invite you to meet some of them and read their stories.

  • Once a Child Labourer, Mamata is a Beacon of Hope for Her Community During the Pandemic:Mamata’s Story

    Mamata Sardar is 17 years old, and like any other teenager her age, she studies in class 12. But this has not been the case with her as she was a victim of child labour. Living in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, India she lives with her parents and two siblings.

    People in Mamata’s village mostly depend on agriculture, or they end up migrating to cities or other states of India in search of a living. Mamata’s family too had an extremely humble background, to support her family’s income, she migrated to Kolkata and there worked as a child labour in someone’s home. She was abused both physical and mental by her employer. At such a young age, she had to deal with so much abuse. After being rescued from that gruesome situation, Mamata returned to her village where she became a regular at Save the Children’s Children’s meetings and trainings, she was nurtured by our team through various capacity building programmes. She was re-enrolled in school with the help of our field staff and became a regular at school. She developed great liking in spending time with her peers, stitching and doing gardening at home in her kitchen garden.

    In March, 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic started in India, people in Mamata’s village very confused and clueless about the virus. It was then that Save the Children’s youth champions like Mamata stepped in and helped people understand all about the virus. These youth champions were aware of the virus from the information they had gathered from the representatives of Save the Children in the last children’s meeting held in February 2020.

    Mamata and other explained everyone how they need to maintain social distancing of at least 1 foot, how one should not hug or shake hands with others, washing hands as frequently as possible with soap or hand sanitizers and finally most essential thing wearing a mask in public.

    As the country went into lockdown, Mamata’s father and elder brother lost their jobs and with no income in the family Mamata feared that the joblessness of the bread-earners might also push her to join the workforce to earn a living for her family without even completing her studies. Adding to her worries was the closure of her school and the lack of internet facilities at home for most of the children in her school. Because of this, her school was unable to start the regular on-line classes like the fortunate children of urban areas. With no schools, there is a fear of children getting engaged in child labour or even getting trafficked. As a member of the Village Child Protection Committee, so far Mamata has prevented 13 children from getting trafficked and stopped 3 children from getting engaged as child labour in her village. She also sought help from Save the Children’s team for food rations for her family and other families in her village, later they also got help from the local government.

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
  • Understanding the Ill-effects of Child
    Marriage: Lalita’s Story

    Lalita Kumari, a 16-year-old from Mohanpur block in Gaya, Bihar has a lot of aspirations. A native of Pakariya (Lakhaipur) village where getting access to services like education and knowledge on sexual and reproductive health is not easy. Her father, Arjun Yadav works as a mason in the village and her mother, Setabia Devi, is a homemaker. They find it hard to provide for the needs of their children.

    Growing up in a remote village and an orthodox family, she was made to leave her studies after 8th class and was told to do household work with her mother. She was not able to understand the outcome of all this; neither she received any support from any external agency.

    In May 2016, when she was just 12 years of age, Lalita became a victim of child marriage. She was too young to understand the meaning of marriage and was unable to understand why things changed for her post-marriage. She was told that she will soon leave her parents’ home after her “gaauna”, and so her relatives started explaining to her that now that she is married, she needs to live her life the way the groom’s family wants. They use to instruct her about the type of clothes she should wear, the household work she should know and the worst she was not allowed to go outside to play with her friends. Most of the time, she ended up doing household work the whole day as her mother insisted that these skills will only help her at her in-law’s home.

    In September 2016, Save the Children along with a local NGO, Samagra Seva Kendra (SSK) started an intervention on child marriage with our project ‘Marriage No Child’s Play’. All the adolescent girls from her village were selected and included in the adolescent group. Lalita also becomes a part of this group called “Gulshan” (10-14 yrs.). It took a lot of effort for making Lalita’s parents understand the importance of letting their daughter be a part of the said group.

    Once Lalita joined, the project staffs observed that she showed keen interest in group meetings and related activities. She always attended all the activities and meetings. She took training on sexual and reproductive health, Lalita babu, Financial Literacy, etc. She also started realizing that she has been a victim of child marriage and how it could be a curse for her life. She came to know about the importance and usage of different birth-control measures and decided not to go to her in-law’s house unless she turns 21 years of age. She also explained to her parents about the ill effects of child marriage, and with time her parents also started realizing that daughters are not labilities and started giving importance to her opinion.

    Lalita now mobilizes other adolescents in her village and participates in community-based event like rally, Adolescent Health Day, Cycle rally, and street plays. She speaks up on adolescent issues at various platforms at village, panchayat and block level.

    During the ongoing pandemic COVID-19, she is playing a vital role in spreading awareness among the other girls and community members about the importance of safety measures like usage of masks, proper and regular handwash, maintaining social distancing and of course how to maintain dignity during lockdown by using a cloth made sanitary pads when all shops and health centres ran out of sanitary napkins. When her father, who is a mason, lost his job and there was an acute food crisis in the family, she had reached out to the Block Development Officer, with support from Save the Children and requested for continuity of Public Distribution System (PDS) to support the poorest of poor.

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
  • Reaching out the Families Struggling to Meet Ends Meet: Ramshi’s Story

    “I don’t remember when was the last time my family enjoyed three nutritious meals in a day. There has never been a single day without worrying about what food I will feed my child for their next meal. Most of the days, leftover rice from dinner is what we relished as breakfast. We skip afternoon lunch, so I cook one meal a day that serves us both for dinner and breakfast. As a mother, it hurt me every day for not being able to provide a nutritious meal to my child. Covid-19 is certainly a huge crisis in everyone’s life. Even before the pandemic, my family has been living in multiple vulnerable situations like food insecurity, lack of livelihood opportunities and natural calamities. We have survived all these years. Adversity made us more resilient.” said 35-years-old Mageshwari, Ramshi’s mother.

    Since childhood, Ramshi’s father, Vedharethinam (40) had an issue with his vision. He lost sight in his left eye at the age of 24. With limited vision, he use to sell dry chilli on his bicycle. At the age of 28, Ramshi’ father lost eyesight in his second eye. He was unable to do any work. In the year 2019, he got an ID card from the Department of Differently Abled and started receiving the benefit of Rs.1000 every 2 months. Ramshi’s mother had to step in and earn for the family. She started working under the 100-day of employment programme, but due to COVID-19 lockdown, the panchayat stopped the work. Ramshi’s family was left with no income at all. Ramshi’s mother was saving Rs 50 per month for her son’s future education. She had no choice but to exhaust all her savings in managing a one-time meal for the family.

    Help from the Village level Monitoring Committee was a ray of hope for Ramshi’s mother. The Disaster Management Committee formed under the project Income Generation Programme for victims of Gaja cyclone across 10 villages of Keelaiyur Block in Nagapattinam District of Tamil Nadu is supported by Save the Children. In January 2020, Save the Children collaborated with Herbalife Nutrition Foundation and CAF India to support the Income Generation Programme (IGP) for victims of the Gaja cyclone.

    With help from the group, Ramshi’s mother was able to provide a nutritious meal to her child after months. Getting the help filled their life with hope, courage and resilience. Save the Children’s team also supported the family with mango and coconut saplings to help them in the long-run. The Village level Monitoring Committee is monitoring the family and trying to find livelihood option for them.

    “My son, Ramshi, is in grade 2, studying in the nearest government school. However, his education was completely disrupted due to the pandemic. Ramshi is hopeful, and he wants to become a police officer. I will work hard and help him realise his dreams and aspirations. Sincere gratitude to Save the Children for their timely support that helped us through difficult times.”, said Ramshi’s mother Mageshwari.

    There are many children like Ramshi starving for one nutritious meal a day. We are observing UNCRC week from 14th to 20th November and encouraging people to support our cause.

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
  • Aditi’s Story: Making difference in the world, one step at a time.

    Meet Naina*. At the tender age of 16, her family pressurised her into getting married with an already married man and a father to a child.

    Not even a month into the marriage, she experienced physical and mental abuse by her alcoholic husband. And a few months later, she got pregnant. With no medication and extreme negligence by her husband and in-laws resulted in severe health issues. Naina was then sent to her mother’s home for the birth of her child and since then, her husband has remained uncontactable. With no source of income, she was at her parents’ expense and was blamed by neighbours and relatives for her fate.

    The project ‘Samudaya Abhivruddhi’ was initiated by Save the Children in Bharthi’s village in Karnataka, including 19 other villages in the state. Naina was one of the beneficiaries who received support from Save the Children to set a shop in her village.

    From being dependant, she became economically independent.

    “We have so much power within us. But still there are many women who are unaware of it and are suffering in silence. I was one such woman. At one point in time, I wanted to finish my life. But, today, I am an entrepreneur, earning my living and educating my child,” says 30-year-old Naina.

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
  • Meet Neekita*, singing the rhythm of change.

    Neekita, a resident of the Motilal Nehru Camp, an urban slum in New Delhi, lives with her family. The slum is a home to around 15000 people who come from almost 3500 households. Issues like Open Defecation, lack of dustbins and improper drainage systems were the most rampant problems the slum faced and there was an alarming need to maintain personal and community hygiene.

    Neekita wanted to take some action, but didn’t know where to start from. Even before she could work towards making things better for the community outside the four walls of her house, she decided to change things on the inside.

    She attended Save the Children’s adolescent training sessions and motivated the people around her to change their attitude about waste disposal, hand-washing habits and the need to use toilets.

    Neekita then began to use her talent in singing to spread the message of sanitation. Her efforts yielded results & there was a spike in number of people pursuing proper sanitation practices.

    Neekita’s story is a reminder of the need to “be the change you want to see in the world”.

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
  • On the road to empowerment: Story of Naina

    Neekita, a resident of the Motilal Nehru Camp, an urban slum in New Delhi, lives with her family. The slum is a home to around 15000 people who come from almost 3500 households. Issues like Open Defecation, lack of dustbins and improper drainage systems were the most rampant problems the slum faced and there was an alarming need to maintain personal and community hygiene.

    Neekita wanted to take some action, but didn’t know where to start from. Even before she could work towards making things better for the community outside the four walls of her house, she decided to change things on the inside.

    She attended Save the Children’s adolescent training sessions and motivated the people around her to change their attitude about waste disposal, hand-washing habits and the need to use toilets.

    Neekita then began to use her talent in singing to spread the message of sanitation. Her efforts yielded results & there was a spike in number of people pursuing proper sanitation practices. Neekita’s story is a reminder of the need to “be the change you want to see in the world”.

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
  • The Unwavering Determination of Surbhi

    Meet Surbhi*, who comes from the Mahadalit community, one of the most marginalised communities in the country. Patriarchy is rampant and women in the community are confined to their households, with no choice of working outside.

    Surbhi lives in her village with her parents and three siblings – a sister and two brothers. Her father works as a daily wage labourer and like the rest of the women in the village, her mother is a home-maker.

    In the community that Surbhi comes from, early and forced child marriage is a common practise. No girl in the community has ever undergone skill training or is doing paid work.

    With the ‘SashaktKishori’ project being implemented by Save the Children and imparting life skill education, Surbhi was able to understand her future course of action and decided to acquire the skill of her choice, aiming to be financially independent in the long run.

    Her story is one of the many examples of determination conquering every barrier.

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
  • Story of Rohan’s Persistence to change his life

    Rohan* used to live in Metiaburj, located in the South western part of Kolkata, along with his parents and older brother.

    With an insufficient income, Rohan along with his mother and sibling found a safe haven in their maternal uncle’s home. Rohan and his brother had to work in a slipper factory and started to support their mother by providing Rs.50/- while still pursuing their primary education.

    With every passing day, things got worse and their mother contracted a bone disease along with a worsening heart condition. Rohan and his sibling were forced to quit school and to continue working full time in the factory. Seeing the mounting hospital bills at home, Rohan’s sibling gave up all responsibilities and ran away from home, leaving young Rohan in-charge of their mother’s ill health and the diminishing finances at home.

    Things at the factory weren’t good either. With a history of physical abuse by the owner and a meagre salary, Rohan was distressed and angry. He set out to look for a respectful work environment and a decent earning.

    Through Save the Children’s intervention in the New Horizons project, Rohan was trained in both, technical as well as in soft skills. On mapping his interest with the team, he was encouraged to join the Facility Management course that would help him develop some technical skills and gain employment.

    After completion of his technical training, he started On Job training at a nearby restaurant, which guaranteed him a steady income.

    “Life skills session enabled me to identify my strengths and area of improvements. After attending the first day of my life skill class, I cried for hours thinking that I wasted many years. If I had identified it earlier, it might have lead me towards my golden days sooner,” said Rohan.

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
  • Meet Anjali: Making her way to the world of learning

    Anjali* was mere few months old when her mother passed away and she was abandoned by her father and older siblings. Seeing the turmoil this young baby was going through, Anjali’s aunt decided to adopt her.

    When she reached the school going age, they decided to enrol her in a local school. Unfortunately, due to the lack of proper documentation and the absence of her biological parents, schooling remained a distant dream for her.

    Save the Children’s Mobile Learning Center (MLC) that aims at taking education and child protection to the doorstep of such kids, identified that she was an “Out-of-School” child. The “Blue Bus” became her first step to education. Within a month of training, she was able to recognise letters and numbers with ease.

    Our MLC educators also supported her with school enrolment. Through countless follow-ups and advocacy, Anjali was finally enrolled in the 2 nd standard.

    Anjali realised that when life locks one door, it opens another. Sooner or later, it always does.

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
  • Priya’s Curiosity driving her back to School and learning

    Meet Priya*. She is the younger of the two siblings. Her parents are agricultural labourers. While they own two acres of land, they also work at farms owned by others.

    On the weekdays she goes to her school, but on the weekends she works at the chilli farms. She does so, to supplement the income of her parents who work there as well. According to her and something that is being instilled by her parents, “If only she works, they will have enough to eat.”

    Before the initiation of Save the Children and Santa Maria supported programme in selected villages in Guntur, Priya used to work in chilli fields and cotton farms alternately. Her figures in the attendance register at school were pitiful as earning money was a priority clearly set by the family members.

    However, with the enrolment drives, one-to-one counselling sessions and community awareness drives as part of the initiative, children like Priya are coming back to the schools.

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety
  • Knowing Nutrition: A story of Sakshi and her mother

    Three-year-old Sakshi* lives in a small room in Sai Baba Nagar with her parents and her younger sister. At first glance, she looks feeble and very short for her age.

    Her parents struggle with living a life with financial instability and the inability to even provide two meals a day. Sakshi’s father is a daily-wage labourer and works as a waste segregator with a mere income of Rs. 100 per day. Her mother is a housewife.

    Poor nutrition, hygiene and financial instability made Sakshi susceptible to illnesses. Her mother reached out to Save the Children’s health worker. Soon, it was found that Sakshi fell in the Severely Acute Malnourished category.

    She was then asked to attend Save the Children’s Supplementary Feeding Programme (SFP) in which she learnt about the importance of a nutritious diet and some nutritious recipes. Within six months, Sakshi reached a healthy weight range.

    Now Sakshi’s mother not only understands importance of nutrition herself, but actively counsels other women in her community about the importance of breastfeeding and nutritious food.

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
  • Bringing the light of literacy: Story of Varsha

    Meet Varsha. She is 15-years-old, from a local village school in the city of Patna. She lives with her parents and 5 siblings in an urban slum, which is one of the most “at-risk” for disaster areas.

    Education was a distant dream for Varsha and her siblings, since just the basic survival was hard. Through Save the Children’s intervention in her area, she began coming to the Children’s Group. As a part of the group, Varsha was taught about disaster preparedness along with other basic education that was provided to them. She took active interest in the lessons and wanted to make a difference in her community.

    So, she began special classes where she provided basic education to illiterate women so that they can read and write. Initially met with resistance, she now has 20 women enrolled in her classes and teaches them diligently.

    And for each one of them, she’s their guiding light.

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
  • From being lost to being the light: Story of Deepa

    Meet Deepa*, from Kondh Tribal community in the district of Kandhamal. Born to parents who are daily wage workers, their primary form of sustenance is the agriculture. Financial instability and the perpetual lack of funds was an accepted way of life for her. So much so, that she was compelled to drop out of school. Her resolve to pursue her education led her to continue studying from an Open School.

    Having personally faced numerous problems in terms of child marriage and Sexual Reproductive Health, she was determined to make life for her peers in the village easier. Through Save the Children’s intervention in her community, she was inspired to work towards achieving her goal in an organized manner. Over the past 2 years, she has been successful in stopping 12 child marriages.

    She is now the President of the Block Level Girls Federation in her district, where she actively represents 2000 adolescents and fights for Child Rights and Protection. She is passionate, focussed and determined to end child marriage, gender violence and address the issues of girl’s education in her community.

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
  • The “Never Giving Up” story of Alka

    Meet Alka.. The death of her father at a young age and the inability of her mother to earn her daily wage owing to the patriarchal set up of her hometown, compelled them to move from their village in Haryana to Kolkata. Unable to sustain a living in the big city, Alka’s mother and her two other siblings, went back to their village.

    She began living in a girl’s hostel where she got the opportunity to study till class IX. However, having no place to call “home”, Alka was relegated to live with her relatives. The obligation of living with relatives was too much for her to handle, and she decided to become self-sufficient and earn a living for herself.

    The wait for a job seemed endless and Alka began to lose hope. Through Save the Children’s intervention, Alka was able to enrol herself in the Life Skills programme. But unfortunately, she fell ill with malaria and was unable to complete the programme.

    After overcoming the hurdles of life she managed to start her technical classes on Facility Management and started working in a nearby restaurant.

    Even though it’s hard, she’s never stopping herself from trying more.

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
  • Unlocking the doors of education: Garima’s Story

    Meet the 6-year-old Garima. She has never seen her father since the day she was born, because he was busy working out of state to provide for the family. Her mother is differently-abled and can’t do much in providing for the family.

    Being left by her husband to survive with 3 growing kids, her mother found no support from her family. She resorted to begging in order to meet the daily needs of her kids.

    In December 2019, through Save the Children’s project, an enrolment drive was initiated. Garima and her siblings were enrolled in the school and is now mixing with other children of her age, regularly having mid-day meal in school. Garima’s mother is a little bit relieved after this enrolment, because she believes that education will open new doors for her.

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
  • Nandini: Fighting for Change with the weapon of education

    Meet Nandini, a 13-year-old, oldest of five siblings. She lived in a dilapidated house in the village of Burmu Ranchi. However, her life was not the life an ordinary teenager.

    Her father suffered from a mental illness and died shortly before her sixth birthday. Her mother abandoned them when they were very young. To add to the misery, the financial instability made their lives harder. School and formal education were completely out of question.

    Once she reached her maternal uncle’s home, they decided to enrol her in the local school. They were convinced that if Nandini wanted to change her life, education was imperative. Having been an “out-of-school” child for all these years, her classes seemed difficult and academic performance dwindled.

    Through Save the Children’s initiative in her village, all academically weak children were provided extra classes to help them cope.

    There has been a significant improvement in Nandini’s academic performance and this has boosted her confidence in unimaginable ways.

    Nandini says, “You can get anything you want if you are educated.”

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
  • Breaking the Bar of Age: Meet Nisha

    Meet Nisha, a ten-year-old, youngest amongst her siblings, lives with her parents in Bhanwar Singh Camp, a slum in the urban city of New Delhi.

    Due to family neglect, she developed a lot of bad habits when it came to personal hygiene. With only one community toilet set up, Nisha preferred defecating in the open than going all the way there. These bad hygiene practices lead to her falling ill more often than usual. Her attendance in school began to decline. With both her parents working to make ends meet, there was no one to take care of her at home.

    It was during this time that Save the Children initiated the WASH project in the slum. At one of the sessions Nisha came in contact with the project staff who oriented and trained her on the need to practice good personal hygiene.

    Now regular to school, her teachers have witnessed marked improvement in her performance. Not only is she is using her newly acquired knowledge to change perceptions within her community, she is also doing it in school.

    Nisha has indeed lived up to the “age-no-bar” saying.

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
  • From the rock of responsibilities to the world of childhood, Witness Amit’s Story

    Meet Amit*, a young guy from Biswanath District in Assam. His story is that of perseverance and determination. He is the oldest amongst his three other siblings. The seniors of the family did not feel compelled to send him to school for him to pursue his education.

    Rather, he was sent off to the city to work as a domestic servant and add to the “family income”.. He was unaware of the new avenues that existed beyond the responsibilities he was carrying on his shoulders. He soon returned to his village, where despite the assurances of education, he was relegated to working at home.

    It was only after coming into contact with Children Group and Child Protection Committee initiated by Save the Children in his area and regular consultation with his parents, Amit was enrolled in the local government school. He is now in class two and loves going to school like the rest of his friends and likes to play football and cricket.

    With the little acts of change, Amit could find his childhood back and could take off the rock of responsibilities from his shoulders.

    *Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.

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