We had the opportunity to work closely with girls of the Udaan school in Mewat and the impact that JMV made there in the past year was on evident display at the community seminar held in May. Though the community there is strongly patriarchal and conservative, they broke the social norms for a day to see their little girls, studying at Udaan, showcase their learnings on the school campus.
Another inspiring story that I came across was of Chanchal Srivastava, a KGBV student in Mehsi block of Bahraich. This class 7 student lost her father at a young age and her eldest sister took it upon herself to educate her 3 younger sisters. All four sisters not only continue their education but also take care of the family land in their village.
Just like Chanchal and her sisters, the girls of the Ekta adolescent groups too act as role models for others in the community. The group, whose members I met this summer, is made up of a unique mix of girls. Together these girls not only stopped child marriages in their own and other villages, they also ensured that girls remained in school and did not drop out. Almost all the girls, despite their tender age, had started contributing to their family’s welfare in some way or another, be it by serving as a singing star in a local village musical troupe or filling in for a priest at a wedding.
As India was deeply shaken by some high profile cases of violence against women this year, JMV played its own role in addressing issues of gender equity . While interacting with male JMV participants I came across Manoj and Raju. Both men, in their 30s, did not shy away from admitting publicly that they were actively involved in taking care of their children and helping their spouses as well as their parents. Talking to them made me realise that change is a personal choice and has nothing to do with rural or urban upbringing/lifestyle.
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