13-year-old Munni was engaged to be married, like so many girls in the slums of Patna, India. A future of early pregnancy, an end to her education and negligible job prospects lay ahead.
But her mother and our community workers had other ideas. If she was to work her way out of the poverty-stricken conditions she lived in – including sharing a tiny four-room house with her parents, several siblings, a grandfather, sick grandmother and her visiting aunts – she needed to study.
The risks for a child bride
Some of Munni’s family resisted, but our teams worked hard with Munni’s family to outline the risks of early marriage. With your help, we ensured that Munni’s education became the first priority. Eventually, the wedding postponed to a time that was right for Munni.
Munni joined our local Children’s Group where she was encouraged in her learning, and taught other important life lessons, such as first aid.
Enrolled in school and growing in ability, she then decided “If we have education, we must give it to our brothers and sisters.”
She began classes for local women – backed by advice and equipment from Save the Children – teaching them literacy, numeracy and giving information on health and family matters.
A community hero
After initial scepticism, 20 women currently attend.
“They’ve all learned to write their name,” says Munni, now 16, who has become a respected part of the community. “And when I say that you have to take an injection [from the health centre], they believe me.”
The women have also gained confidence and are now not afraid to speak up for themselves. Combating child marriage and boosting opportunities for girls are crucial parts of Save the Children’s work.
In Indian slums, which are prone to disasters, such as floods, we also help children who are at risk from poor sanitation, violence or having no safe place to stay. Your support allows us to continue helping other girls like Munni to be healthy and happy.