Story no. 1
Nita finds her inspiration in girls’ group.
Nita Kangule 20 years belongs to Malegaon village. A frail brown skinned girl, Nita belongs to a farming family. Her father, Mr. Dhondiram Kangule had studied up to 7th class and took up the family tradition of tilling the 3 acres of arid land belonging to the family. Although he has 3 acres land but due to recurrent droughts, lack of water source and non availability of resources the family of 7 persons lead a marginalized existence. Nita has 2 brothers and 3 sisters. Her elder sister got married at 17 years. Other relatives in the family include grandparents. Nita mother is illiterate and has never been to school but is keen that her children attend village school. Her mother is a member of the local women’s group organized by PIRD.
Nita was fortunate to have been to high school located at Ahmedpur as it was within transportable distance from her village. She failed in one subject and was unwilling to clear it in her next attempt. Her parents seeing an idle teenager at home decided to search suitable boys for her marriage. That was three years back. Meanwhile Nita joined the village girls group formed under the guidance of PIRD village volunteer Ms. Nakatetai. Nita was impressed by the information given at these group meetings where 16 girls of her age met once a week at the volunteer lady’s house. Motivated by her facilitator, Nita was encouraged to complete her education and took up junior college studies. Ms Nakate her facilitator was also able to convince her parents to delay the girl’s marriage till she completed her college.
Nita completed her junior college education (12th class) and now at 20 years of age was married to an educated youth. She is grateful to the girls’ group and her facilitator who inspired her to fulfill her potential. As an educated woman, Nita is confident that she will be able to handle family responsibilities with confidence and maturity.
Story no. 2
A group to share growing pangs
Radhika aged 15 years is a fair, thin and shy teenager. Her village Rui is a small village with a population of 500 and has a school up to class 7. The high school she attends is located 4 kms away in another village, but since there are neighborhood girls going to school her parents allowed her to join school. Radhika has 4 brothers and sisters. Being the eldest in the family she has to help her semi literate mother in household chores. She helps her mother and grandmother in washing clothes, sweeping and dusting, making beds, fetching firewood, feeding the two cows and goats in the cattle shed, cleaning the shed besides concentrating on her high school work.
Radhika’s family belongs to the SC caste, which is a marginalized and neglected group and deprived of several benefits and schemes. Radhika’s father has completed high school and has realized the value of education for his children. Radhika’s father is under constant pressure from relatives and family members to marry off Radhika as per village customs ever since she attained puberty. Radhika being a good looking girl had received many marriage proposals but her parents especially her mother who is a member of local Self Help Group was adamant that her daughters will marry only after completing 18 years.
Radhika joined the Kishori group in Rui village set up PIRD guided by a local literate volunteer Mangal Shrimangale. Her facilitator was an active and friendly young woman who took up regular health and nutrition education for 14 teenage village girls from marginalized families. Radhika was particularly impressed by family life education and the demonstration lessons by a village woman on use of sanitary napkins. She confided to Mangal Shrimangale that she had never discussed menstrual problems with her own mother as it was a taboo topic. None of her friends would discuss this matter. Hence she was amazed that the teacher had openly dealt with growing up problems of teenagers. Radhika convinced her mother and started to use clean sanitary napkins instead of using and reusing old clothes which were never dried completely. She informed her facilitator that she has gained more self confidence and is no longer shy of her body and is able to understand her bodily development.
Radhika like other girls in her class is confident that she will convince parents not to get her married early and fulfill her desire to become a woman of substance.
Story no. 3
Moulded in Girls Group to Future Growth
Varvati is a small village located about 15 kms from Ahmedpur block. The village has a privately managed high school which caters to the rural boys and girls from neighboring villages. One of the few first year college girls from her village, Pratibha Suryavanshi, aged 17 years is all geared up to step into the new found freedom of college life in Ahmedpur block which is a large town with several facilities. A public transport bus plies twice daily from her village to the college. It was this facility that motivated her parents to permit her to pursue further education.
Pratibha owns her confidence and maturity to the mental molding that took place in the girls group. The Kishori groups formed by PIRD and managed by Puspabhabi opened new avenues for village girls like Pratibha. Here lay opportunities to discuss, share teenage prater, growing woes, and learn more about the whole wide world other than the village. It brought the world closer to them and they were mentally strengthened and propelled to venture out and experiment.
Pratibha would have ended up as any other village girl when she completed her high school. Her parents were ready to tie the marital knot as prospective offers from grooms began to flow in. Belonging to a marginal farming family, her parents were worried about the marriage costs. Pratibha was interested in becoming a doctor but did not have the courage to approach her parents and hence confided in Puspabhabi, who worked her magic; assured of security for girls and rest was history. Pratibha got admitted to a college as she could not get admission for medical course as her percentage was less that the cut off percentage. She could not fulfill her dream of becoming a doctor but she is determined to study hard complete graduation, become an administrative officer in government and work for rural development.