Working with parents

Samvad between father and daughter impact case studies final

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A vicious cycle breaks off

Husainamma never saw anything different coming her way. As a daily wage labourer, poverty, sweat and toil had marked her days for as long as she remembers. We met her in the Bhindi thota (Bhindi farm) labouring under the sweltering mid-May heat of Guddadhalli village of Koppal taluk. After walking to and fro, trying to spot her, we finally saw her waving at us, signally us to come through the fields fully blooming with yellow flowers. She found a shady corner under an enormous Tamarind tree close by where she makes us sit on the manjhi (cot made of wood and jute). She adjusted her saree and offered to sit on the floor. I coaxed her to sit with us; she laughed and reluctantly agreed. Ages of discrimination of families from backward castes paralyzed them to believing that a better life and a higher place is only for a select few.

Husainamma is a mother of six- four sons and two daughters. She talks, “none of my sons went to school. They all had to work and earn for us. Three of them are married and one fought with me and left home. I put two of my daughters in school.” Husainamma represents the threshold of change taking place sporadically in the lives of the common man in the villages of Koppal. Here is what happened…

Husainamma decided to get her older daughter married at the age of 14, soon after she dropped out of school in Std 9. Child marriage is still a norm in parts of Koppal with 46% of the girls being married off before the age of 18. While her older daughter remained home excited about the prospects of marriage, the younger one Thayamma, got chosen to be the role model adolescent girl for Sphoorthi Project. This inevitably made Husainamma the role model parent for the project too.

Husainamma went to Mysore for the exposure visit with other parents from her village as part of Sphoorthi project’s parent-level interventions. It was an indelible experience for her, a breath of fresh air, so different from the days she spends in her village. Throwing away all constraint, she talked, she traveled, sang and listened. Husainamma heard about the perils of child marriage in one of the sessions conducted at VLEAD by a woman facilitator. She was challenged by the sessions to break away from her old beliefs. The exposure visit gave her insights to a world larger than her own little village where there were opportunities for boys and girls, where cultural constraints and limitations did not matter. She returned and as she says, “the first think I did was call the boy’s parents and break off the engagement with my older daughter. I told them that if they want my daughter’s hand in marriage, they have to wait four years till she is 18.” Huligamma is proud of her decision and today actively mobilizes women from her village to attend Sphoorthi meetings.

“What about Thayamma, her younger daughter”, I ask?

Huligamma immediately laughs. She is “tumba jor” (blatantly bold). A born leader. She continues to jangle away about her younger daughter. “Our entire family listens to her because she is the only one still going to school and studying so well. She decides what we should eat, where we should go, how we should spend money. She fights in the market with the sellers if they cheat me. Even her brothers listen to her. She warns me and tells me that if I stop her education, she will send me to jail where I will be given only ragi mudde (balls made of Ragi) to eat!”

Someone says, the pen is mightier than the sword. I am certain Huligamma would not agree more! “Thayamma is the light of our house. My son says, whatever Thayamma wants, we should provide. We want her to study”.

Huligamma and Thayamma are a delightful mother-daughter duo. Both are bold, both want change and both are being the change they want to see. With them, the tide turns around…Now, for the family and soon for the community. Kudos to the role model mother-daughter duo of Sphoorthi project.