Support Group Diaries: Four Short Stories

No more violence Baba

One day the support group was discussing Warning Signs at the cluster meeting, when Mudit (12 years) told the YM that his father gets drunk and beats his mother. 'If my sister or grandmother tries to help my mother, they also get beaten up. Because of this, my older sister and brother have stopped going to school, and I am worried my education will also stop”.

The YM asked him whether he had considered telling his father that his behaviour upsets him and how it is affecting the family. Mudit had not thought of that option. The YM helped him figure out what he could say, but Mudit he remained non-committal about confronting his father. The other children and YM then encouraged him to follow through and reach out to his father.

The YM consulted the Core Team Members and decided to track whether Mudit had been able to communicate with his family. They would intervene only If he had not been able to.

But there was no need for that intervention. Mudit found the courage to speak up himself. He managed to explain to his father that if the violence continued, his education would eventually stop, just like that of his siblings.

The violence in their home is a lot less. Mudit is continuing with his studies and group activities.

Back to School

Ritu (13 years) fell in love with a boy in her neighbourhood, and ran away with him one day.

One of the first thing her mother did was to let the YM know what had happened. The YM advised filing of a report with the police as soon as possible. She accompanied Ritu’s father to the police station, and filed a general diary.

That night the parents went to the boy’s village home and found them there. They beat up the boy a lot and brought Ritu back with them. She was and dropped her at her sister’s home far from the city, and was told that she was never going to live in Kolkata again.

When the YM realised what the parents had done, she repeatedly followed up with Ritu's mother, trying to persuade the parents to bring her back to Kolkata and let her continue with her schooling.

Ritu’s father was determined to get her married off, and for a while it appeared that none of the efforts of the YRC members would work. The YM explained the risks and consequences of getting children married early. She advocated for Ritu to be allowed to complete her examinations, and once she is of legal age they can make a decision then. She shared Ritu's strengths with her family.

After two weeks of regular follow up, the family relented. Ritu was brought back to the city.

She is continuing with her education and attending cluster meetings regularly.

Getting help to kick a habit

Sourav is 14 years old and in class 8, and had recently started smoking. He had kept his supplies, cigarettes and a hookah, in his room, and his mother found it. She was upset and asked him to promise that he will not do this again. Sourav made the promise and decided he will stop smoking. But when he saw his friends smoking, he wanted join them, and found it very difficult to abstain.

He shared these feelings during a cluster meeting with the group. The Youth Mentor (YM) advised him to stay away from those friends who are feeding their addiction. The Support Group often would have discussions about the consequences of addiction, and he was given individual emotional support. He was also engaged in other things that he enjoys and was encouraged to concentrate on honing his skills and developing them further. The other children in the group also showed their support by saying they will play with him, keep him company and speak to him when he is low.

Now he is studying well and his relationship with him mother has improved. She had stopped trusting him and would constantly accompany him everywhere. Now she doesn't chaperone him around anymore.

Speaking up for a future

On the day of the Rath Mela, Mita (17 years) went out with her mother’s permission. When she returned late, her older brothers scolded her a lot, and assumed that she has gone to meet her boyfriend. Then her brothers decided that she should be married off immediately.

That week Mita shared this at the cluster meeting. The YRC team had a conversation with her to find out what she wants to do with her life, what her dreams are, whether she wants to get married or not. Mita said she did not want to get married, and she wanted to pursue her education. Support Group members encouraged her to be assertive with her family and express her ambitions to them.

It took three attempts for her to persuade her family. Eventually, they gave in to her persistence and agreed to let her continue with her studies, and she is doing so now.

Extracted from YRC report to the Case Management Team, April - September 2019.
Names have been changed where appropriate