Manisi* was born into an extremely impoverished family. She lived in perpetual struggle. Her family had to work hard every day just to survive. Manisi’s parents toiled under the hot sun, as laborers on a farm, so that they could put a little bit of food on the table at the end of each day. They drifted from one village to another in search of work. Their lives were marked by uncertainty, as the family lived each day not knowing what the next day would hold for them.
Manisi’s parents fervently desired a son who could bear the responsibility of supporting them in their old age. Being a daughter, Manisi was an unwanted, added weight to the already large burdens her parents carried each day. Her parents’ dissatisfaction with her gender manifested itself in neglect, a grave reality that cast a deep shadow over her life.
The situation worsened when a second daughter was born into their family. Manisi’s father believed Manisi’s existence brought a curse upon the family, condemning them to the fate of having two daughters. He subjected Manisi to daily beatings, his words laced with scorn as he told her over and over again how useless she was to their family. The cycle of discrimination, abuse, and neglect became the terrifying rhythm of her existence.
One day, IGP social workers were doing a field survey in Manisi’s village. They heard Manisi’s story from people in the community. Witnessing the child’s suffering, they jumped into action. Determined to bring hope into Manisi’s life, they confronted her indifferent parents.
The initial conversation between our social workers and Manisi’s parents was met with great resistance. Manisi’s parents, worn down by their burdens, were dismissive and hostile. However, our team refused to stop working with them. Threatening to involve the authorities, they convinced Manisi’s father to allow them to stay. It was within this uneasy truce that our team began to unravel the layers of resentment surrounding Manisi and her sister.
In a quiet but firm dialogue, our team probed the depths of her parents’ animosity. Manisi’s father, in a moment of reluctant honesty, confessed that he saw Manisi as a financial burden. The prospect of dowry for her future marriage loomed large, a daunting obstacle he was unwilling to face.
Undeterred by the challenges the family was facing, our team worked hard to help Manisi’s parents see her inherent worth and value. Our team explained to Manisi’s parents that education would be the key to liberating Manisi from the shackles of poverty and dependency.
Our team worked diligently to paint a picture for Manisi’s parents where Manisi grew up to live an independent life, supporting herself and her parents in the future.
Despite initial resistance, Manisi’s parents have reluctantly agreed to send her to school. However, our team understands that true transformation requires sustained effort. Our team has committed to regular visits with Manisi’s family, and continuous counseling until a genuine change of heart is observed by her parents.
Hope has dawned for Manisi. With the intervention of our social workers, her path to education and emancipation has begun. The journey is fraught with challenges, but the promise of a brighter, independent future casts a hopeful light over Manisi’s life.
Manisi’s story is one of many. Every day, girls in India face struggles much like her’s. IGP is dedicated to reaching these precious girls, and giving them the opportunity for hope and a bright future.
*Name changed for privacy.