Defying Tradition: Preeti’s Story

Stories from the Field      2 min read

Every morning in Agra, India, sponsored child Preeti Sholanki, 9, straps on her backpack and starts for school with her best friends Kiran and Roti. It’s a 20-minute-walk through the bustling city streets, but this daily routine is something her ancestors in the 1800s couldn’t have envisioned.

 

Preeti’s great-great-grandparents migrated to Agra from Dhoda, Rajasthan about 150 years ago when drought and famine swept across western India. They left Rajasthan to survive. But today Preeti leaves home each morning in pursuit of much more.

 

“Education is providing a way to improve life,” says Preeti’s father Om. He didn’t always believe this, but his sister Leela and World Vision volunteers convinced him. One of two people in her neighbourhood to finish high school, Leela runs an anganwadi (child care centre), teaching children who aren’t in school as well as leading maternal nutrition and health classes. Leela helped enrol Preeti in school.

 

In India, poor families tend to marry off their daughters at a young age, but two factors lower Preeti’s risk of child marriage. Her parents didn’t marry as young teenagers — her mother and father were 18 and 20 years old respectively — and Preeti is getting an education with their full support.

 

With marriage far from her mind, Preeti dreams of being a teacher just like her aunt Leela. “Once I grow up, I want to improve my community,” she says. With World Vision’s support, Preeti is defying traditions that hold girls back!

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