Preventing child marriages
Satyaranjan Giri says one of his “greatest achievements” was to directly intervene and prevent at least two child marriages.
He has been a volunteer of Children International (CI)-SAHAY for the past ten year. He lives in Baikunthapur Sishu Seva Kendra, Sunderbans, West Bengal.
Satyaranjan grew up struggling and fighting poverty, difficulty and hardships in the land of Sundari tree, where hundreds of zigzagging streams define the face of the earth daily. It has no distinct borders of the land and sea. However, he never gave up hope for a better and brighter future.
“I am also associated with voluntary work in our village and am also part of the village managing committee. Our village consists of 165 families.”
The 45 year-old man has been an assistant, read volunteer, in several grassroots level NGOs and is a part of the Shiksha Bachao (protect education) committee. He coaches students free of cost, preparing them for the Britti (local board) examinations.
“I believe that young people should have a role model in their life. Like the ones we had while growing up- Vivekananda, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Tagore and the likes of them.”
To encourage youth and harness their skills and talents and keeping them focused, the village institution where he serves as Secretary celebrates Netaji Subhash Chandra Boses’ birthday. They organize various events such as drawing competitions, blood donation camps and others sending out positive messages to the community and society at large.
Satyaranjan is also a much sought after dramatist in his village and neighboring areas. He recently scripted a drama on child marriage titled “Danger Signal” which featured in various community events, local fairs and gatherings. It has been well-received.
His wife, Satrupa, is a constant source of encouragement and has been supporting him for the last 20 years.
His older daughter, Sataki is an eleventh grader while his younger son, Chandan, a child under the Children International- SAHAY sponsorship programm is in sixth grade.
While attending the various events of CI, Satyaranjan was deeply influenced by the way the organization functioned and reached out to people. He then decided to volunteer his services and time and then there was no looking back.
A farmer by profession, Satyaranjan recollects an incident when he was six or seven years old. They were so poor that they could not afford two square meals a day. Hi neighboring village was holding a shradh ceremony. He and his friends landed there expecting a good lunch.
At their arrival they were told to wait outside and they would be called after the invitees finished their lunch. Somehow he fell asleep. When he awoke nobody was around. He started crying. However on seeing his plight a stranger gave him muri (puffed rice) and left over sabji (vegetables) to eat. He adds, “This incident left behind a deep wound inside me.”
The father of two children asserts, “I like to involve myself in whatever I do with honesty, empathy and dedication. I like to receive love respect from everyone.”
Another incident which shaped his life concerned his father who was a music director in a jatra (local drama) group. Satyaranjan states, when he was about ten years he had worked as a child artiste in that group and sang a song whose lyrics meant that he would never leave the path of honesty even if he had to live a life of despair and pain.
For his simplicity and innocence he gained appreciation from the chief guest present there and a reward of one rupee- even thought he had not known the meaning of the song.
Yet the most important lesson he learnt that day was when the chief guest told Satyaranjan never to forget what he sang that day and try to live up to that principle!
As a CI volunteer he opines that the most important qualities should be that of, “accountability, participation, communication skills and adjusting to various situations.”
He signs off by saying, “From this sponsorship program I have got love, satisfaction, happiness, meeting different children and their parents and above all respect and the encouragement to write new drama scripts.”
SAHAY works in eight districts of West Bengal with 24,000 children and youth. It is affiliated to Children International, Kansas City, U.S.A. More on: www.children.org