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18-Year-Old 'Sarpanch' Bringing School Drop-Outs Back to Classes

by Rishika Choudhury

Date & Time: Nov 01, 2022 7:00 PM

Read Time: 3 minute

It is said that age doesn't matter to do something for the people or society and this has been proved by 18 years old girl from Rajasthan’s Dera Village. An 18-year-old is ensuring that low-income children attend school. A large number of students were dropping out of school to work as domestic servants. These kids earn a few hundred rupees for odd jobs. This money provided two meals a day for their families, but at the expense of their future.

Lalita, a child herself, has rescued 57 children and forced their parents to re-enroll them in the village school.

“I along with other members of Bal Panchayat used to go door to door and convince the parents to re-enroll their child in school. We used to explain to them how important education is. However, some parents will ask us to leave and tell us that their child will work as a laborer like them to earn some money," she said adding, “Convincing children and parents for anything is always a challenge, but we keep trying. Since we visit their house, again and again, people finally understand that we want the best for them."

Fighting against the cause effects children and youngsters

Lalita Duhariya, 18, is fighting against school dropout rates, child marriage, child labour, untouchability, and other issues affecting children and young adults' lives.
Since 2015, Duhariya has been an active member of Bal Mitra Gram, an internationally recognised model of child-centered rural development. As a Sarpanch, she now leads the Bal Panchayat (Children's Council) at the age of 18.

Many people in her village did not take Lalita and her friends seriously at first, despite the fact that they were dealing with major issues at such a young age. Despite the difficulties of the journey, she claims that people in her village have finally begun to show their support. She has an impact on society by advocating for girls' education, environmental awareness, health, and hygiene.

Lalita’s father is a construction worker and her mother is a housewife. She said that now her parents are supportive of the work she is doing but earlier when the villagers used to come and fight with her parents, they used to ask her to stay out of all these matters.

Lalita herself has passed through that phase

Lalita herself has faced issues such as class discrimination and untouchability. She claims that when she was in Class 6, she was denied food distribution in her village because she was of a lower social class, but she took the matter to a Bal Panchayat meeting and fought for her right. Since then, she has been working to improve the lives of those in her community.

Lalita has taught people to respect all religions and castes, and most importantly, to accept their fellow human beings. On the occasion of Makar Sankranti, she organised a "communal lunch" in which she and other Bal Panchayat members from all castes and communities participated and ate lunch together. Through this initiative, they wanted to spread the message to the entire community to join hands and work together for the development of the community.

Her awareness campaign together with Bal Panchayat led to the complete elimination of child marriage in her village and from the neighboring villages. She is a recipient of the Ashoka changemaker award and the Reebok fit to fight award.

Lalita has completed her schooling and is right now pursuing a BA degree along with a Teacher Training course. When asked about her future plans, she said " I want to get into Rajasthan Administrative Services because once a person gets authority it becomes easier to implement things in order." Although she is interested in the teaching profession as well, she wants to continue working for the betterment of her state.

Also Read: This is How Project Nanhi Kali proved helpful for girls

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