Hansa Prity, 12, dreams of becoming a doctor. Currently she is a high school student in a South Asian country, living within the poverty-stricken coastal belt also known as one of most vulnerable areas to climate disaster. Life here is difficult, especially for girls like Hansa who are vulnerable to yet another type of tragedy: child marriage.
For girls and boys like Hansa, a World Renew partner runs some clubs for adolescents in this area. Hansa became a member of one such club in 2018, and she was enjoying her school and her time in this club, where she learned about justice issues.
But this good time did not last long for her. She was told she was to get married soon. Her father, a fisherman, suffered great business losses due to last spring’s Cyclone Amphan, and he continues to face hardship due to COVID-19. He is unable to provide for his family of five. Marrying Hansa off would help him reduce some of his economic burden.
It was shocking news for Hansa. She does not want to get married now; she wants to complete her studies. She went to the local peace and justice committee that she had learned about in her club. Committee members including a school teacher, the president of the committee, and two other members of World Renew’s partner went to Hansa’s house to talk to her parents. Hansa’s father said, “I understand everything, but what should I do? I am helpless and unable to support her studies.”
The committee chairman, a school teacher, assured the father that the school would support Hansa’s education. Hansa’s father then agreed not to give his daughter in marriage before the age of 18, as per the law.
It was a great relief for Hansa. Her heart is happy at the news that she will be able to go to school again. But she has a long way to go. Along the way, will her father keep his word? What will happen when she turns 18? And will she be able to fulfill her dream of being a doctor?
Most girls like Hansa never get to see their dreams fulfilled. But they have hope that things can change as they learn to rely on help from those in their club and others who support the dreams girls like Hansa hold.
—By a World Renew field staff member in South Asia