How Sitara Reaches Full Potential

“My father used to motivate me a lot to study. His thinking was very modern when compared to other members of our society…He never pressured us to get married and always fought for us,” says Sitara.

16-year-old Sitara, leader of a Children’s Club and sponsored child studying in Grade 12 in India, is a highly motivated and articulate young girl who is also an active participant in various programmes of World Vision. “I love to talk, dance and compère. My confidence has increased and now I can talk in front of anyone,” quips Sitara. She lost her father at the age of 10 and has been receiving educational support through World Vision to reach her full potential.

Thanks to a Supportive Family

“My father used to motivate me a lot to study. His thinking was very modern when compared to other members of our society. That’s why he named me ‘Sitara’ which translates as ‘star’. He wanted me to become someone important and make him proud. He never pressured us to get married and always fought for us,” recalls Sitara.

Sitara is lucky to receive the support of her family. According to her, however, her community still has a long way to go. “In my community, girls are generally not allowed to work. The moment girls turn 18, people in the community start getting restless and keep asking their parents when they’ll get their daughters married. My father would have ready answers for such people. However, there are times when parents succumb to the pressures of society.”

“Right now my brother and mother are very supportive and push me to study. My brother was very interested in studying but had to discontinue his studies to support us, that is why he’s so strict with me,” says Sitara.

Agents of Change

Udaan (which means to soar, fly or take-off) is a group of motivated youth in the Jaipur Area Development Programme (ADP), where Sitara lives. The group aims to be agents of change to bring about social transformation in their community. They are an example of how children and youth can ensure child participation and protection within their communities by monitoring the progress of not only sponsored children and families but also the entire community.

The group currently works in four communities in the Jaipur ADP and is connected to 21 Children’s Clubs, including a Children’s Club led by Sitara. They meet on the first of every month to discuss and take up any issues brought forward by the leaders of the Children’s Clubs or other members of the community.

Sitara (first right) and other leaders of the Children’s Club having a meeting.

Leaders of the Children’s Clubs still feel that it will take a while for their voices to be heard; hence, when faced with a difficult problem, they approach members of Udaan for support and guidance. “There are some things that we feel uncomfortable to discuss with our families. We feel more comfortable discussing these issues with Udaan members because they are slightly older than us. Parents generally ignore our problems or tell us to forget about it. Serious problems like many girls having to stop going to school because of harassment are ignored. But now because we have spoken about this issue, even teasing has decreased in our community, and girls know who to turn to,” says Sitara.

Moving Up the Ladder

Receiving the Economic Development Assistance (EDA) from World Vision in 2008 was a turning point in the lives of Sitara and her family; the EDA continues to be a source of constant income for them. “My husband’s health was not good and he could not go to work. We took the flour mill as EDA. With the help of the flour mill, we were able to at least meet our household expenses; and my earnings, together with that of my son’s, was used for his medical expenses,” says Raziya, Sitara’s mother. Raziya is now also part of a Self Help Group, “The group encourages us to save money so we can apply for loans during difficult times.”

Sitara’s sister-in-law, Abida, demonstrates how to make wheat into flour using a flour mill.

Through Child Sponsorship, Sitara and her family have benefitted in many ways. Most importantly, the family is empowered towards a better life and self-efficiency. “I’m happy and my heart is at ease now that my child is going up the ladder and growing. That’s all that I want for her,” says a tearful Raziya. “We know that World Vision can’t stay with us forever. We are the future of our community. We will take forward World Vision’s work," says Sitara.

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