POSTED February 2, 2022
Inspiring teen becomes first from her tribal community to go to school
Budding child-rights advocate from India shares her experience in breaking barriers to education
By Pamela Vijay, program officer, sponsorship
Thirteen-year-old Mageshwari lives in a remote tribal community in India with little access to basic services or education. Her widowed mother, a landless agricultural labourer, works hard to make a living in a community where the importance of education, child rights, health and more isn’t fully realized. In fact, Mageshwari’s mom was afraid to send her daughter to school.
Then Children Believe and its partner Integrated Rural Community Development Society (IRCDS) began connecting with people in the tribal village and discussing basic rights, including the right to education. Through the IRCDS field office, community members and volunteers counselled Megashwari’s mom on the benefits of education and paved the way toward a groundbreaking moment, as the aspiring student became the first child from the community to attend school.
Going to school liberated Mageshwari. She started to attend a creative learning centre and also became an active member of the child-friendly accountability mechanism (CFA) club.
“I learned from sharing with other children and hearing government officials about the importance of education,” she says. “Club activities and the other children motivated and inspired me to help with the betterment of all tribal children. My teachers encourage me to motivate and help others continue their education.”
Over time, she’s become an eloquent public speaker who educated her family and community about what she’s learned attending her CFA club. Now everyone can access government-funded programs, which makes it possible to send children to school and build household toilets.
And, Megashwari knows it’s a child’s right to have a voice and stand up against issues such as child marriage, sexual exploitation and other situations where children are vulnerable.
In fact, Maheshwari received a Changemaker award from the honorable superintendent of police for Tiruvallur district for preventing child marriage in her village.
She was honoured to receive the accolade. “For a moment I was shocked at my braveness — being a girl handling the issue with inner strength,” she says. “I’m very proud to get this award from a police officer, because I desire to be an officer one day. I dream of eliminating violence against children, women and lower caste people.”
Reflecting on how far she’s come, Megashwari is grateful for what Children Believe and IRCDS made possible. “If not for the sponsorship program our community would still be unaware of so much,” she says. “I’m glad I could be a leader and inspire other girls and boys to seek their own rights and privileges.”
ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE:
Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.
About ChildFund Alliance:
A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.