An inspiring story of 16-year-old girls running a village on their own

'Be the change you want to see in the world' is not just Facebook or WhatsApp status

Tina Das Tina Das Oct 26, 2017
Change can begin at home, even if home means an alcoholic father

Location Name: Thennamadevi , VillupuramNo. of Area / Locality: 27Taluk Name: VillupuramDistrict Name: Villupuram90 women of this village are widows. Their husbands have died from alcoholism and the youngest one to die was just 21 years old. Every evening, after having sweated it out in the field, the men turn to home brewed liquor for relief.

Alcoholism is a major problem among men in various villages of Tamil Nadu. Representational image Alcoholism is a major problem among men in various villages of Tamil Nadu. Representational image

This village also has a high rate of child trafficking, mostly for sex. The Guardian reports that of 4000 reported children crimes, the range varies from petty crimes to sexual abuse to missing and kidnapped children. The nearby village has a helpline which receives these complaints. Almost 70% of these belong to the Sadhu caste; 10% from the "backward" caste and a fifth came from the "most backward" caste.

But there is another side to this village too. A 'young girls club' of this village has helped build a library from old and used books and managed a health audit of the entire village. That's not all. The broken streetlights of the village brought back to life by them. The girls also hope to have buses connecting this remote village to other villages and cities.

They are the daughters of alcoholic fathers.

They have decided that enough is enough.They have decided that self help is the only help they are ever going to get.

They are strength to reckon with- determined to be the change and not wait for it. In a community hall, under the poor glow of a bulb, they drafted a petition about need of better transport facilities. A 16 year old girl is the leader of this group- she is Sowmya.

She is secular. Only when everyone has raised hands in the discussion of any issue, is a decision taken by her. It is a tightly knit unit. They also help friends to maintain personal hygiene and deal with menstrual issues. The 'trainers' are all around sixteen years of age or less.

The 'young girls club' have brought the change they wanted to see in the world.Representational image The 'young girls club' have brought the change they wanted to see in the world.Representational image

The girls watched their friends run away to far away cities and to capital Chennai and never return. Some were found being on railway tracks, some missing even now. They did not want to become numbers on that list; they wanted something better, not just for themselves but for their village too. And unlike many young girls, they did not wait for princes on horses to come rescue them.

Alcoholism hasn't stopped. In fact, one woman could not stop her eldest daughter from being sexually abused by the men in the place. But these girls intervened. They renovated an abandoned house for them and now, the girl who was abused is married and has her own house.

The girls did not need a 'man' to hjelp them bring about change in their village.Representational image The girls did not need a 'man' to hjelp them bring about change in their village.Representational image

They are being noticed, by politicians and NGO's alike. They are being helped too. The organization, Scope India has assessed the situation of the village. They provide opportunities for the disadvantaged. But it began with these amazing young women- they took the first step towards change.

We are impatient about growing up and dream of doing 'great' things when we do. The 'young girls club 'of Thennamadevi, with their determination and hard work only prove that age is just a number. And it's never too early to start writing your own story.

Copyright © 2017 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today.