by Jason Schwartzman, ChildFund Team Leader for Child & Youth Involvement
In a previous post, I described the situation of young Indian women who leave their home community for work or marriage and end up in distant communities, often feeling more vulnerable because they are not among their own people.
While traveling in remote villages in the state of Orissa where ChildFund is working, I met a group of women who had formed a group that is growing mushrooms and selling them to earn income. I call this the daughter-in-law group because newly married young women dominate the group, having come together with some of the daughters of the village where they are now living. Most have very young children, and the oldest member of the group is 24 years of age. They’ve come together to increase their incomes, but their group also has a social component that makes them feel more protected and less vulnerable.
This is just one solution that young people in rural communities have come up with to address the profound challenges they face. ChildFund is partnering with these communities in a variety of ways to address the issue of poverty and the risks that young people face. With our support, youth have formed clubs that meet anywhere from weekly to monthly, and they’ve taken up the work of talking to parents about why they should keep their child in school rather than pull him or her out as they have just done—hence earning a visit.
When they make house visits, youth go armed with local stories, such as how a neighboring family thought that sending a son or daughter off to work was a solution to their economic struggles. But, in fact, turned out to put their child at greater risk. Their argument is simple — don’t repeat the mistakes of your neighbor.
Tomorrow, this blog series on youth issues concludes.