Breaking the
Shackles of
Marriage to
Follow Their
Dreams Good Health

Association for Development and Health
Action in Rural Areas (ADHAR)
Bolangir district, Odisha

Breaking the Shackles of Marriage

“We want to study well and become teachers so that we can tell our village about the impact of blind beliefs on young children.”
- Ranju, Bharati and Nibedita (Girl children from the Project Area)

Read how your support is transforming lives and minds of girl children in state of Odisha, India

Ranju, Bharati and Nibedita from the village of Pondrani are a part of the Children’s collective of their village. When the collective, with support from CRY America supported project ADHAR organized a session for adolescent girls on ‘how early child marriage impacts motherhood’, all three girls came forward and revealed how their marriages had been finalized. Children from the collective along with the community members and a member of the ADHAR team immediately met their parents and explained to them not just the physical and psychological impact on children but also the legal implications of marrying children at an early age. The efforts worked and today the 3 young girls are pursuing their studies.

Issues affecting girls like Ranju, Bharati and Nibedita in the villages of Odisha in India

Orissa is among the 100 poorest districts of India. Over 90% of its population lives in rural area and 37% belong to schedule tribes and caste. The lack of adequate infrastructure, poor quality of education, paucity in the number of teachers and caste and gender discrimination compel children to stay away from schools. Insufficient job opportunities at village level lead to large scale migration. Children too work along with their family members under such difficult circumstances. Children, particularly adolescent girls, are also prone to high degree of abuse and exploitation of different forms. This causes parents to get their girl children married off at an early age.

Our Approach

CRY America supported project ADHAR started by sensitizing villagers to apply for work through the government schemes. Slowly with better governance, the local panchayat has started taking into account the needs of this poorest community. Public healthcare centres that were previously non-functional were restored with newly appointed trained, health workers. Anganwadis became the hub where immunization dosages were regularly given to children below 5 years. The children’s collectives were formed and engaged in addressing micro-level issues affecting children and mobilized support to ask for improved school buildings, appointment of teachers, convinced parents to not force their friends to get married at an early age and were even successful in getting a water pump for safe drinking water in schools.

Impact
In the last year project ADHAR ensured:

  • Regular health checks up were conducted and covered 3,607 children, 341 pregnant mothers and 26 malnourished children.
  • In 45 villages, food committees were activated and tracked regularly.
  • 68 meetings on reproductive health and life skill training were held for adolescent girls, 1,034 girl children participated.
  • 7 seasonal hostels were opened in two blocks to address the issue of school drop outs due to migration. These hostels enrolled 2,61 children.

  • 60 school dropouts were re-enrolled into schools.
  • 281 meetings were conducted with children’s collectives to identify and discuss their issues.

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