One Voice: Many Stories

KURNOOL, Andhra Pradesh, India - UNICEF began partnering with IKEA Social Initiative (IKEA SI) in 2006 to implement a child rights model in rural Andhra Pradesh, India. The pilot child rights model in Kurnool District was later scaled up.

The lessons learned from this experience are now shaping a convergent child rights programme across states of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan with IKEA SI support. Any successful intervention requires community involvement and participation.

Here are a few voices from the field.

Parents thank the Panchayat (Council of elected members in the village) for changing the lives of their children. As a result of our community mobilisation efforts, cottonseed farming has completely stopped in my village. Today I’m a satisfied man."

"But I know that there is a long road ahead. I would like the Government to build a High School here. We (Panchayat Committee) have already allotted five acres of land for the school building. This will encourage parents to send their daughters for a higher education. It’s my dream to see every daughter in my village pass out of a High School.”

Poojari Satyanarayana Swamy, Sarpanch (Chief) of Vemugodu Village, Gonaikonda Block, Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh.

I’ve been through hell and back. The constant beatings by my husband still give me shivers. But I’m not afraid anymore.

"I’ve decided to get an education so that I’m aware of my rights. I understand that knowledge is power. Today my family supports me and I want to be a role model for other girls in my community.”

Nagamani, 14 years, Peddnelatur Village, Gonaikonda Block, Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh

“I visit the village regularly. Last week, I was informed by the Balika Sangha (girl’s collectives) members that Dasgiremma was being married off to a man almost twice her age. I immediately contacted the Sarpanch (Chief) of the village, the local police and press reporters."

" The following day we went to Dasgireamma’s home and stopped the marriage which was to take place in three day’s time. Her mother has agreed to send her to the residential boarding school. I immediately contacted the Principal of Gurukula Vidyalaya, and she been admitted in Class VII.”

Sridevi, 25 years, Community Coordinator, standing with Dasgireamma, 11 years, student in the residential bridge school, Chilakaladona Village, Mantralayam Mandal, Kurnool District , Andhra Pradesh

“Our Community Coordinator, Sridevi, was very persuasive. She explained to us the benefits of schooling our daughter. In the beginning, we were reluctant to send Malleshwari to a residential school facility since she has never even traveled outside the village.

"Here she has to live away from the family. But we understand that this is good for her future. Gone are those times that girls remain confined within the four walls of their home. Today every girl needs to be empowered through education.”

B. Malleshwari, 11 years, with her grandfather Ayanna and mother Narsimha Chilakaladona Village, Mantralayam Mandal, Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh.

“Since 2002, we’ve been working to create a protective environment for children. When I became Sarpanch, I realised that due to lack of toilets in schools, girls were being left out. I raised the issue in the community and we constructed toilets in schools.

"The attendance of girls increased by 20 per cent within the first few weeks. Today out of 530 children in the primary school in the village, more than half are girls.”

K. Sowmaya, Former Sarpanch, Member of the Child Rights Protection Committee, Erravennu Village, Warangal District, Andhra Pradesh 2132

“We used to work as agricultural labourers. Due to the community mobilisation efforts in our village, we were rehabilitated into a Bridge School Centre for six months.

"Today we study in classes IX and X respectively and live in the Social Welfare Hostel in the town. We’ve come a long way from our difficult past.”

Katta Narsimha, 11 years (right) and Katta Shobhan Babu, 9 years, Erravennu Village, Warangal District.

Two years ago I lost my father. To supplement the family income and support my mother to raise my two younger siblings, I became a daily wage labourer.

"I had to discontinue my education. Rubia, the Community Coordinator, in the village is counseling me to rejoin a Bridge School Centre. I haven’t yet made up my mind.”

V. Swarupa, 13 years, Erravennu Village, Warangal District.

“As a youth leader in the community I’m focused on increasing youth participation for social development. We hold literacy festivals in the village; organise trips to places of historical and religious interest for adolescent girls; hold clean and green drives in the community, among other activities."

"We also leverage important days in the calendar to galvanise parents and peers. One such occasion is Diwali (the Indian festival of lights). We celebrate Diwali as Akshara Day (Literacy day) to educate the community on the importance of girl child education. I believe our country will make true progress when our girls walk alongside boys.”

Mohammed Basher, 25 years, President of the Youth Group, Gudur Village, Warangal District, Andhra Pradesh.



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