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Child advocate brings school dropouts back to school

Sponsored when she was six, Marjula is now a strong and determined teenager who speaks out regularly on the high dropout rate for children in her community.Photo: ©2009 Srinivas/World Vision

Sponsored when she was six, Marjula is now a strong and determined teenager who speaks out regularly on the high dropout rate for children in her community.
Photo: ©2009 Srinivas/World Vision

This month our country of focus is India, where World Vision’s Strong Women, Strong World initiative is focusing on child protection. The following story was contributed by Cecil Laguardia, World Vision.

Manjula, sponsored when she was six, is a strong and determined teenager who speaks out regularly on the high dropout rate for children in her community. At 16, she looks fragile but when she speaks on issues she believes in, her strength shines through.

The eldest of four siblings, Manjula became a World Vision sponsored child when she was six years old. “My life started to become challenging and interesting when I joined World Vision’s children’s club in our community,” she says. “I was once very shy. I hardly spoke in front of big groups of children and preferred to be in the background watching others,” Manjula adds.

As she began to be active in the club, she also began to come out of her shell. “I learned a lot of things and became aware of the many issues in my community,” she says. One issue that she is very passionate about is the school dropout rate in her village. Her interest started when one of the members of the club, Chamabenna, quit school to work in a plantation and help his parents earn income. Manjula recalls, “That made us quite upset and as a club working for the welfare of fellow children, we decided to do something.”

Together with other representatives from the club, Manjula visited Chamabenna at home and talked to his parents. “We were glad his parents were open-minded and listened to us even though we were children. We told them about child rights, especially the right to education, and how Chamabenna can have a better future if he goes back to school”, she proudly shares. They then invited Chamabenna’s parents to the children’s club meeting where World Vision staff talked to them about what assistance they needed to send their son back to school.

“It was a good feeling to have been listened to and be able to support a club member. We were even able to facilitate to help Chamabenna’s family get assistance in terms of livelihood,” Manjula says. “We found out that many parents of school dropouts really do not realize the value of education. To be able to help the dropouts, we need to reach out to their parents and make them understand. It is a challenging task but I am happy because I am doing something very important for other children.”

Many parents nod with pride as Manjula shares her story. Although she is humble about her efforts, she has provided hope and inspiration to many children and parents. Manjula wants to join the police force someday and help protect the welfare of children. For now, she is determined to focus on helping her fellow children go back to school and seriously regard education as vital to their future. For as long as she does so, children who have had to drop out of school in Holtikoti will find refuge in her unwavering resolve.

“I find fulfillment in helping send children back to school. I feel that it is my responsibility to help them and really do something about this issue,” Manjula emphasizes.

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