The girls from Durga Devi Kishori group represent the courage and might their names stand for. A group of 20, these girls leave no stone unturned when it comes to getting their way.
Formed in 2019, under our Children GOOD project, the girls hail from marginalised Devadasi communities.
“We are discriminated against a lot”, says one member, 15-year-old Shalini. “We even get insulted.”
The Devadasi community in North Karnataka is comprised of women who have dedicated their lives to sex work as part of a harmful traditional practice. Generations of women in the same family follow the profession, which keeps them socio-economically oppressed.
We work with their children and one of our major interventions is to group them into clubs, where we train them on child rights and life skills.
“In our club, we got very inspired to bring about change”, says 17-year-old Naveena, leader of the group.
In the month of December 2019, Naveena and her fellow members identified that the main road connecting their village to nearby towns was very badly done. As a result, vehicles could not ply, and travel to and from the village proved difficult for people.
Apart from this, the team also found out that there was an open drainage near the main road, which was a breeding ground for diseases.
“After deep discussion and consideration, we decided to write a letter to the Panchayat and did so in January 2020”, says Naveena.
The Panchayat, impressed by the efforts of the young girls, decided to take the matter seriously.
In June 2020, the construction of a new road began, along with the fixing of the open drainage.
After six months, the construction was completed.
“It was a moment of victory for us”, says Naveena. “The life skills training taught us how to be bold, and it worked.”
Now the main road is fully functional and extremely busy. People also reacted positively to the efforts.
“The villagers are slowly smiling at us whenever we pass by them now”, says Naveena. “For us, there is no better feeling than that”, she adds.