Partnering with Parvati: Then and now

Parvati no longer believes that one’s fate cannot be changed.

Born in a poor family, the youngest of nine children, she comes from a village in Udayapur so remote that it’s at least seven hours to the nearest bus stop. Child marriage was rampant in her village, which is why her eldest sister got married at the age of 15. She now has a daughter as old as Parvati.

Parvati barely escaped child marriage herself.

Parvati barely escaped child marriage herself. When she was 17,  a proposal was made for the sister immediately above her but when the girl said that she wanted to continue studying, Parvati was offered instead. She refused, but the lami (match-maker) did not give up and the boy’s family had made up their mind not to go back without a daughter-in-law.

Being a member of the child club formed by World Vision in the Village Development Committee in 2004, she had attended orientations where she had learnt that child marriage is illegal and that a girl is not mature enough to get married before 18. It was not easy to convince her parents and the family of the boy, but she was determined and sought the support of the local Village Child Protection and Promotion Committee (VCPPC), a committee that World Vision helped form. The others had to give way.

She helped in stopping the marriage of Januka, a junior at her school who was 14 years old when her marriage was fixed to a man who was 23.

Since then, she has decided to do whatever she can so that no one else should have to go through what she had to go through.

She helped in stopping the marriage of Januka, a junior at her school who was 14 years old when her marriage was fixed to a man who was 23. “When I heard about the case, I was quickly taken back to the time when I was forced to get married and I knew I had to do something,” she says. The local VCPPC helped her there too.

Her efforts aside, things are tough at home. Her parents are already in their sixties and dependent on the cattle they rear at home, which hardly suffices for everyday expenses let alone anything extra, but Parvati, working odd jobs, managed to complete her high school education.

She then saw a job vacancy at Human Rights and Environment Development Centre (HuRENDEC), a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) working in Udayapur, and applied. Now, HuRENDEC partners World Vision, in helping to implement stronger child protection systems in Udayapur, and Parvati is an active social mobiliser ensuring this in her community.

“Although I got married at a young age, I am happy that Parvati was able to do something with her life. When I talk to other women here, they appreciate her efforts in trying to bring change. I am proud of her.”

 

Parvati may be young but that doesn’t stop her from envisioning a community that is child marriage-free. “Child marriage, initiated by parents and relatives, has reduced substantially here, due to the increased awareness following activities such as orientations, street plays, dialogues, etc. The major challenge now is elopement,” she shares.

Looking at her now, she stands as an example of continuous partnership with World Vision, first as a steady child club member and now as a staff of World Vision’s implementing partner NGO.