Iswori turned her life around
Iswori (19) had a childhood laden with responsibility. She was taking care of her four siblings as a nine-year-old child when her mother passed away. She was also juggling household chores and school work at the same time. Forced to get married when she was just 16, she faced mental and physical abuse from her husband while facing traditional expectations her husband’s family has from a daughter-in-law. A week after her wedding, she contacted Ward Child Rights Committee and Child Club and she was able to annul her marriage. However, coming back home was not devoid of stigma. She was not accepted back in her family so she had to live with her cousins. She wanted to resume school but there were no resources to support her.
“Friends of my age used to go to school, I used to cry because I could not,” says Iswori. She was caught up in helping her cousin with household chores and farm work so she stopped dreaming about going back to school.
At that time she came in contact with Save the Children’s Sahayatra Project through which she was about to access school supplies like stationary and uniform to resume school. She also received three goats that helped her make an income. She currently has five goats. She says, “It is enough for me to continue going to school.”
Iswori is also an active member of adolescent group in her ward, participating in various trainings and awareness raising activities. She says, “I participated in my first baby session and I am now aware of consequences of child marriage and also teach youth about child marriage’s negative impact and health issues. I was involved in door-door visit with child clubs and aware community on handwashing steps, wearing mask, distance making, used of soap, sanitizer for hand washing, personal hygiene and cleanliness to be safe from COVID-19.”
She recently passed grade 11 securing a third position which she is very proud of. In order to enroll in grade 12, she sold two goats. She also supports her siblings to go to school and sends money back to her father for household expenses. She says, “I am regular in class and studying hard. I want to be a teacher in future and support other children who are the victim of child marriage.”
She rejoined school at grade 9 after much difficulty but she is now in grade twelve. She shares her story with other children her age so that they can avoid child marriage and focus on their lives.
The local government official in charge of her ward says, “We used to think that development is all about physical infrastructure like building road, buildings, electricity and our problems will be solved. But now I have realized that development is only possible with change in children’s lives, supporting families most in need, reducing harmful social practices, eliminating child marriage and reducing violence against children.”
With Save the Children and partner NGO KIRDARC, Save the Children runs Sahayatra Project in Kalikot, Jajarkot and Dailekh through which children like Ishwori are identified by Ward Child Rights Committee (WCRC). The WCRC along with local government assessed the child marriage situation in the ward and appropriate support was initiated. From 2019 to 2021, Sahayatra Project has worked with 205 adolescent girls and boys who were involved in child marriage through interventions designed to help them go back to school, including making an income for their families. The project also helped 3,339 children who were facing various child protection related risks and situations in collaboration with local government.