Photo © Courtesy of Children Believe
“It is not easy to grow up in a poor household and face discrimination in my own family,” 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.
“I was made to feel that because I am girl, I have to act like an adult,” she says.
A volunteer at a Children Believe-supported Creative Learning Centre in Pavithra’s village learned she had left school in grade nine. Through a Children Believe partner, program leaders talked to Pavithra’s family about respecting children’s rights and the importance of girls’ education. With their support, Pavithra returned to school and joined a children’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.
Sadly, Pavithra’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.
“At that moment I asked myself, ‘why did I have to be born a girl’?” she says.
Once again the Creative Learning Centre volunteer and children’s club members intervened. They warned Pavithra’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.
“I am so grateful I was able to overcome these barriers and pursue my education,” she says. “I am determined to complete school and pursue higher education.”
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.
To help a girl like Pavithra access education, visit Children Believe’s website: childrenbelieve.ca/scholarship-gift
Children Believe is a Canadian independent registered charity, which manages and directly funds program activities in our countries of operation.