Sangeeta Damar, a 27 year old woman belonging to the Bhil tribe from the Isarthuni village, Ratlam district was a child bride herself. After the MKBKSH intervention started in the village, Sangeeta Devi became part of the groups that discussed various topics that were shown on MKBKSH. Sangeeta Devi herself had children very early and understood the implications of child marriage. About 5-7 child marriages were common and these were conducted secretly. She started collecting more information on child marriage from the coordinators and decided to advocate for ending child marriage. She reached out to 12 self- help groups and 150 community members and relatives and made them pledge that they will not allow child marriage in their house or in the community . She continues her resistance to child marriage which has resulted in substantial reductions in child marriages in the area. She continues to spread the message and make more communities take the pledge against child marriage.
Priya is 16 years old and lives in the Old Shiv Nagar city of Bhopal. Her parents stopped her schooling when her elder sister ran away with her boyfriend and got married to him much against their wishes. Her parents thought that her elder sister’s actions were due to her education. Priya’s movements were also restricted. Priya’s friend Vidya would tell her about school which would make Priya sad about her situation. Priya would watch MKBKSH with her friend and often discuss about the episodes. They reached out to the Aarambh staff during the group discussions, who in turn went and spoke to Priya’s parents. Priya has once again started her schooling and is now going to give her exams privately, she is being helped by her friend Vidya.
Vidya, a 16 year old,has been ensuring that every girl in her community goes to school. Her parents always aspired for sons. They are now six sisters including Vidya and two brothers. Her parents discriminated between the brothers and sisters and were never to educate them beyond school. Priya started discussing the importance of education and the various issues she learned from the serial and her school to convince her parents to send her to school. Not only did she convince her parents but she has been working with the Aarambh team to ensure that all the girls go to school, there is no child marriage and that people are aware of the importance of delaying pregnancy and age at marriage.
Saroj Bairagi, is a 35 year old woman from Indra slum of Jabalpur district. She has been part of the viewer’s club set up under the MKBKSH intervention. Through the discussion forums she gained knowledge on issues depicted in MKBKSH such as delaying child birth, spacing and adopting family planning methods. Saroj started talking about these issues with her group members and soon she became known in her community. Once she learnt about a family who had finalized their daughter’s marriage at the age of 17. She took it upon herself to stop the marriage, with the help of the community and even threatening a police complaint she was able to stop the marriage. Saroj has also been a role model for her community in adopting family planning methods. About 17 women in the community have adopted family planning methods following her example.
*Above real heroes were awarded the ‘Main Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon’ awards at the Bhopal Press Launch of Season 2
Hum Kuch Bhi Kar Sakti Hain!!!
Please share your stories of exceptional women and men who are changing the norms in their communities at firstname.lastname@example.org