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Peer Support helps Nandini continue school

October 24th, 2023

16-year-old Nandini stays with her aunt who is a Devadasi woman. Her father who was working elsewhere found it difficult to pay her school fees, making her irregular to school. Her aunt was pressurising her to earn a living and she was extremely vulnerable to being pushed into sex work. With support from the Children's Club, Nandini was able to tackle her situation.

Nandini in school
Nandini in school

Being at risk

Nandini lives in the state of Karnataka in India in a house with an unstable roof that leaks during the rainy season. Her home is also uncomfortably hot during the summer.

She is the eldest of four sisters and lives with her aunt Kenchamma, who is a Devadasi woman. In 2017, both of Nandini's parents migrated to the southern part of the state in search of better livelihood opportunities, leaving their children in the care of Kenchamma. 

Financial crisis affects Nandini's life and she had to leave school when she was studying in class 10. Being the eldest daughter, her aunt was pressurising her to earn a living. Extended families in Devadasi communities force young girls to take up sex work, and the possibiilty of a similar fate awaited her. 

“I felt alone and helpless as I discontinued my studies. I was very afraid as my aunty was not responding to my problem", she said.

Nandini is supported

Prior to leaving school, Nandini was enrolled in a Children's Club or Kishori club of our Children GOOD project. The clubs are a space for children of Devadasis to gather together and learn about child rights, child protection laws and life skills. 

Nandini's friends soon started noticing her absence in the meetings. They knew something was wrong.

They visited Nandini's house and found that she had left school. They realised that she was at high risk of exploitation.After multiple efforts, her peers finally managed to contact her aunt to find out how they can help. 

It took a lot of effort to convince her aunt that Nandini's education had to be priortised. Finally, her aunt was willing to send her to school but did not have the funds. Therefore, the project stepped in to support her with her tuition fee and other school supplies. 

Looking after the future

The Children's Club also gave Nandini the her contact information of Child Protection Systems : Childline-1098, the District Child Protection Unit and the Child Welfare Committee. She was also given the personal contact number of a GOOD Project staff member so that she can call her at any time during any risk. 

The project team is conducting regular school visits to follow up on Nandini’s attendance. She will also receive hand holding support to enroll for her PUC (Pre university College) post her class 10.

Nandini wishes to be a Taluk/District Administrator so that she can help families in need in looking after their children. 

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