Support Group Diaries: Four more shorts

Sujata reaches out

Support group member Sujata (13 years) observed that Sriya (14) was always quiet and alone, so she reached out and made friends with Sriya.

Sujata discovered that Sriya was not able to concentrate on her studies because there were always strangers coming to her house. She lived with her mother, three brothers and a sister. Her father had abandoned them few years ago. Her mother was a professional party dancer, and the strange visitors were her boyfriends. Because of this, the community did not accept them, and often harassed and taunted Sriya.

Sujata invited Sriya to the group, and soon she became a regular member of the YRC. No one in the group judged Sriya, and she was able to make a lot of friends. She was able to share her feeling and receive emotional support.

Sriya indicated that she felt some pressure from her mother to join the profession but she did not want to become a bar dancer. Now that she's a member of the group, Sriya feels more confident to stand up for herself.

Piya speaks up with her father

13 year old Pia’s father is a daily wage labourer. He would come home drunk every night and beat his wife. If Pia tried intervene, she would get beaten up too. This was why Pia was always sad and scared.

Pia shared all this with the support group members. Together they came up with the idea that perhaps she could talk to her father when he was sober. She tried it, but it did not work; her father just ignored her. So one day she gathered up her courage and gave her father an ultimatum...

'if you don’t stop beating us and don’t stop getting drunk, I will leave the house forever!'

Her father was so taken aback by this encounter that he has not been violent since then. So far.

Srijita gets her friend back

17 year old Smita had a boyfriend. One day her father saw them together and got furious. He beat Smita up and then packed her off to her Aunt's place, where she was to stay housebound. Her school and group meetings were put to an end.

When support group member Srijita (15) heard about it, she took the initiative try and negotiate with Smita’s mother. She explained to her that Smita would be terribly frustrated if she was kept locked up, and might do something to harm herself. It was true, Srijita knew her friend. She went on to explain that if Smita came to the group meetings, she would learn right from wrong; but if she was all by herself, the chances of her taking a wrong decision was higher.

Srijita persisted with the negotiation and eventually convinced her to let her resume school as well. Smita’s mother then managed to convince her father. She has requested Srijita keep a look out for Smita and help her make better decisions.

Now Smita is back to attending school and group meetings regularly.

Nasima advocates for her friend

Nasima (14) has been regularly attending support group meetings. She shows empathy and can easily mix with others. Whenever any adolescent faces a crisis, she is able to listen to them without judgment.

One day her class friend Mouli came to her crying; her marriage had been fixed by her parents against her will. Mouli had pleaded with her family to stop, but she was now being forcing into it. Nasima reported all this to the youth mentor of her group and asked for advice.

The Youth Mentor asked Nasima to think of what she would have done in this situation. 'I would protest strongly and not marry, but i'd probably needs lots of support' responded Nasima. Something about her own response gave Nasima an idea.

She went to school and discussed Mouli’s struggle with her other class friends, with the idea that they could collectively report it to the teacher. Then the teacher could perhaps influence Mouli's family.

Her school friends didn’t want to get involved, however, so Nasima negotiated with them by asking the same question that she had been asked... 'What would you have done if the same thing was happening with you? What would you want your friends to do? Child Marriage will ruin our future, our health. If Mouli gets married now she will face lots of challenges, and be very unhappy!'

Hearing Nasima’s passionate argument, her friends agreed to petition the teacher together. The teacher then called Mouli’s family and got them to stop the marriage immediately.

Mouli is thrilled to continue school. She thanks Nasima for helping her through this challenge.
Extracted from YRC reports to the Case Management Team, October 2019 - March 2020.
Names have been changed where appropriate