ONE GIRL DREAM TO STAY IN SCHOOL
â€œIt is not easy to grow up in a poor household and face discrimination in my own family,â€ Pavithra says.
Her father is a daily wage labourer and her mother has a physical disability, leaving the family in a precarious financial state. Before COVID-19 hit, Pavithra was forced to drop out of school. She was forbidden from playing with friends and told to do household chores and care for her mother.
â€œI was made to feel that because I am girl, I have to act like an adult,â€ she says.
A volunteer at a Children Believe-supported Creative Learning Centre in Pavithraâ€™s village learned she had left school in grade nine. Through a Children Believe partner, program leaders talked to Pavithraâ€™s family about respecting childrenâ€™s rights and the importance of girlsâ€™ education. With their support, Pavithra returned to school and joined a childrenâ€™s club through Children Believe, which helps children learn about their rights and work with community leaders and local authorities to improve protection services for children.
In a meeting before the COVID-19 pandemic, Pavithra spoke to a youth group about child rights
Sadly, Pavithraâ€™s troubles continued. Overheard speaking to a male friend on the phone, her father accused her of a love affair and used the situation to arrange for Pavithra to marry a 35-year-old uncle.
â€œAt that moment I asked myself, â€˜why did I have to be born a girlâ€™?â€ she says.
Once again the Creative Learning Centre volunteer and childrenâ€™s club members intervened. They warned Pavithraâ€™s parents that child marriage was against the law and they would face prosecution if the marriage went ahead.
Since then, Pavithra has completed grade 11 and is continuing her studies.
â€œI am so grateful I was able to overcome these barriers and pursue my education,â€ she says. â€œI am determined to complete school and pursue higher education.â€
While many schools in India have closed intermittently due to COVID-19, Pavithra makes use of the time to learn to tailor when classes are interrupted.