Recently, 14-year-old Afrina travelled across India by train with 49 other visionary young women on an exciting peer-to-peer learning adventure. The moment these girls boarded the train they broke down the isolation of the walls of their homes and expanded their horizons. As they travelled across the country, they explored the barriers faced by women and girls and learned how to overcome them.
The trip was part of The Hunger Project’s new Adolescent Girls Program. During this three-year pioneering training program, girls are educated on their rights, health, nutrition and the importance of education. They are also unleashed psychologically and emotionally to believe in their own power to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.
“Everyone in my village was against me travelling alone. They told me that if boys do not travel such distances, how can a girl? I want to tell everyone that girls can live freely and have equal respect to men. Before this trip I was afraid, but being the first person from my family to travel to a city, I now know I can do something for myself and for others.” – Afrina
On their journey, Afrina and the other girls met strong women who are already tearing down gender barriers and transforming their communities. They discussed issues such as child marriage, their vision for a better and equal future for all, and how to achieve economic and social empowerment. They learned how to become champions for change in their villages.
When she returned home, Afrina was determined to make a difference. When she learned that her young cousin was going to be married, she knew she had to act.
“When I discovered that my underage cousin was getting married, I went to her house to confront my uncle. I told him that she should not get married. He was surprised. I proceeded to explain to him that child marriage is bad, and that girls should get married after they are 18 years old. He scolded me and asked me to go home.”
“Later in the day, I came back with a group of friends to persuade him not to marry my cousin off. We all protested and explained to him why she should not get married before 18. We are only children. I never would have had the courage to stand up to my uncle had it not been for this experience,” says Afrina.
Thanks to the training she has received from The Hunger Project, Afrina succeeded in stopping her cousin’s marriage and she knows that anything is possible. She can follow her dreams and make an impact for girls everywhere.