Meena (Name changed to protect identity)
Dear Global Givers,
As the year comes to an end, we hope that you are all doing well and keeping safe. This year has been a great challenge as we continued to witness the surge of COVID-19 and many lives devastated by the pandemic. With educational institutions remaining shut for most of the year, this has impacted many young people on their mental and physical well-being. Our team on the ground has been vigilant and constantly engaged with the girls to provide any support they may require.
We are happy to report that all six girls supported by you are doing fine and coping well with their online classes. We have also shortlisted another four girls to support and enrol into the school as they have been facing challenges to continue their education and post the second wave of the pandemic, the pressure on these girls has increased to support their families from earning through sex work. The six enrolled girls have been attending regular online classes and have even completed their unit tests in the current academic year. They have all performed well. They may be able to physically attend classes by January 2021. The scholars are determined to do extremely well in their exams and are looking forward to offline classes so that they can meet their classmates in person. Not having access to mobile phones was a major challenge for them as they couldn't attend online classes regularly however support was provided to them to purchase phones and mobile data. This was supplemented with tuition classes which continue to date. Some scholars are also attending a python course to build their technical skills. This will further aid in their future careers. For iPartner India, it is a massive milestone. It took the team numerous meetings and sessions to convince the families to let their daughters continue with their education.
Your support saved these minor girls from forced sex work and ensured that these girls remained in school to continue with their education. Many girls in India dropped out of school as parents lost their livelihood and could not afford digital devices to let their children continue with online classes. These girls are a beacon of hope in their villages and are inspiring other girls to pursue education. We are hopeful that they become role models for the other girls and take a stand to break free from inter-generational sex work.
Here is a story of courage and hope.
Meet Meena*, a grade 10 student and one of the girls supported by you. She lost her mother, a former sex worker to HIV when she was young. Her mother’s death traumatized her as her mother was her only source of inspiration and the only one in her family who pushed for her education. She has four siblings, two sisters, and two brothers. Her elder sister was keen to pursue her education but by age 14, she was sent for commercial sex work. Her elder brother has been struggling with drug abuse and is dependent on his sisters. Meena’s eldest sister is the only earning member in her family. The sister lives in Mumbai and used to send the younger siblings money to run the household. Meena and her siblings live with her aunt. Initially, Meena’s family was not keen on allowing her to pursue her education, but after numerous discussions, her family finally agreed to allow her to study. In 2021, her sister stopped sending money to her siblings as she wasn’t making enough due to the pandemic. Currently, there is immense pressure on Meena to take up commercial sex work to support her family. Her family members have been supported with livelihood based interventions and are a part of the various groups under Rakshan. Meena started her journey as a Rakshan scholar in 2020 where she joined in grade 9. She passed her annual exams for grade 9 with first division (539 marks out of 800). Meena was provided with a mobile phone to help her attend online classes. She wishes to go to the hostel to continue with her studies as she feels that the environment in her village is not very encouraging. In her recent unit test, she scored 57 out of a total of 80 marks. She has improved her performance in Math, Social Science, English, and Sanskrit. She has been inspiring other girls in her village to continue with their education. She even organises small group meetings for interested girls and provides them with guidance and support. The team has also observed that she has become more confident and is determined to change her future.
“I want to become a police officer and would like to work to end violence against women from my community. I never thought that girls like me could ever study in a premier institute, especially after the death of my mother. This is just the beginning of my journey” – Meena
Thank you, Global Givers, we wish you all a very Happy Holidays and we look forward to your continued support in the coming years.
With deep gratitude,
Team iPartner India
*Name changed to protect the identity of the girl.