A small family is supposedly an ideal situation for children to grow up in. Unfortunately, this was not the case for Naga, a 15 year old girl from Chittoor District, Andhra Pradesh, India. Her parents only have two children, Naga and her older brother. But, when she was a small child, one traumatic event turned her world upside-down.
One ill-fated day her father - in an alcohol-fueled rage - murdered her mother and deserted the family. Naga and her brother were devastated. As a result of the incident, she had to live with her grandparents. Her brother migrated to Bangalore and found work as a steward in a hotel.
Her grandparents were old and poor. For them, Naga was a burden. It was hard for them to look after her and to support her education. They were also worried about her safety and security. The only solution to these difficulties they could think of was to put their granddaughter into an arranged marriage.
Naga was able to complete her tenth standard education at Government High School at Kottur, 5 kilometers away from her village, after which she was forced to quit school. She had to marry a 25 year old man who was chosen to be her husband.
The school principal heard about Naga’s situation and took decisive action. She contacted ROPES, the local partner of Terre des Hommes Netherlands in India; well-known for their work against child exploitation in the area. ROPES sent a team to visit the village. They met the village leaders and school authorities and discussed Naga’s situation. They also met the bride’s grandparents and groom's parents. They counseled them on the consequences of child marriage, ill effects on the child's health, education and other related future problems. She was still a child and being forced into marriage is illegal. Ultimately, the long meeting and consultations had a positive outcome: Naga’s marriage arrangement was cancelled.
She now continues to attend school. She is pursuing her higher education in junior college. She wants to become a teacher. In her spare time, she is working with a local organisation, helping other girls to protect themselves from child marriage.