On the 6th of August, Binita and her family put up their food stall for the first time in five months. For many years now, every evening, without fail, Binita’s mother and elder brother put up a small stall outside a sweet shop in a crowded settlement colony in Delhi. They cook and sell chowmin, momos and other food items which they prepared for in their one room house during the day. On the 22nd of March, this daily routine and only source of income, came to a halt. They saw on the news that the country was going into lockdown and they would not be able to put up shop anymore. They packed up their things and put it in a corner of the small room shared by the four children and their mother.
We met Binita for the first time in 2018. She was 13 years old. Her mother’s partner had sexually abused her multiple times, while her mother went to work. By the time the abuse came to light, Binita was already 6 months pregnant. She decided to carry it to full term and give the baby up for adoption. For the next three months, Binita was placed in a shelter home. With the support of her mother, Binita decided to pursue the cases against the man who had abused her. After multiple tough sessions with the social worker, she was finally able to testify in August 2019. With our interventions and the support of her mother, Binita was able to go back to school.
The family was finally getting back on their feet, Binita’s mother and brother had managed to save enough money for all her three daughters to go to school regularly. They wanted the girls to study and have a chance at pursuing their dreams. Unfortunately, their lives were overturned once again with the pandemic. With no income, they had to dip into their savings and borrow money to have their basic needs met. Classes for the girls were now online. Between the three sisters, they shared one device. Initially they would take turns doing their homework and accessing the material their teachers had shared. With the passing of time and the depleting savings, the three of them have has to drop out of school. With no money to pay the fees and the inability for all three to attend all classes, the school has barred them from attending classes.
Even though it has been a month since they have resumed work, their income in now less than half of what it used to be. While they struggle to eat three times a day, their dreams of going to school in hope of a better future has remained a dream, that we can hopefully turn back into a reality.