Daughter of a truck driver, this 17-year-old changemaker is fighting for the rights of children
Despite various awareness initiatives and laws, child marriage still continues to thrive in many isolated rural areas. Seventeen-year-old Anju Verma from Daulatpur village in Haryana is fighting child marriage and other social evils to bring change on ground.
She leads an organisation called Buland Udaan, that works for child welfare. Till date, the organisation has enrolled over 700 children in school and stopped 40 child marriages. Anju is also credited with intervening in 15 sexual-harassment cases and has also prevented one female foeticide.
Anju Verma (Image: News 18)
Anju is also credited with solving 965 child atrocity cases. She told News 18,
“In a region where girls were not allowed to wear anything except salwar suits, maintains no eye contact with even your father or allowed to place no opinions at all, I decided to step out to battle against the child atrocities in my village.”
Daughter of a truck driver, Anju makes sure that every student who has enrolled in school scores well and so far they have obtained above 70 percent in their exams. For this, Anju has enlisted the help of the sarpanch of the village.
"Sarpanchji and I made a plan to ensure that while other parents receive appreciation for their kids’ good performance, these girls' parents are embarrassed for killing their study time by making them do household chores,” reports News 18.
Fighting for the welfare and rights of young children is Anju’s priority. She has faced the same difficulties herself. As a five-year-old, when she visited her aunt’s home during vacations, she was made to do all the household chores. She remembers making tea for 15 people when she was only 10 years old and waking up at five in the morning every day, to chop vegetables, clean the house, etc.
Image: The Logical Indian
She told The Logical Indian,
"My aunt humiliated me for not knowing how to make tea. Every time I made a mistake, there were severe repercussions. Late into the night, I had to wash the utensils all by myself. I was forced to do all the menial tasks of my extended family. I even had to massage their body; can you imagine how horrible I would have felt? I was treated like a servant.”
Somehow, Anju managed to escape from her aunt’s house along with her father. It was at that point in time that she realised she needed to work for the welfare for children. Since then she has been talking to many children and understanding their plight and speaking up on their behalf.
Now, Anju is a successful social activist, and a TEDx speaker. With an initial team of seven, Buland Udaan now has 20 members. Her parents support and encourage her in all her endeavours.
"My father, Rajender Kumar, is a truck driver and even if he makes Rs 20,000 a month, he sets aside nearly Rs 10,000 each month for me. He told me to focus on Udaan and that he will take care of everything else. Through the organisation, he is impacting the lives of many children,” reports The Logical Indian.