Story 10: A turning point for Meena
Meena, a resident of Surkhet, Ward No. 8 is just 16 years old. Currently, she and her brother are the only ones in the home, since her only elder sister went to her home at Bardiya after her marriage. When Meena was young, her father used to go to India to work and take care of the family. However, her father later died of HIV AIDS, making the situation at home very difficult. The mother alone had to raise 3 children with a of suffering. Later, the mother left home and got married again. 3 children were stranded at home as both their parents left them. The situation became all the worse as they had no relatives to support them. The eldest sister took over the role of the breadwinner for the family. However, things didn’t improve therefore, the siblings had no other option than to seek out other means of survival. Meena says, “Our elder sister looked for an institution that teaches orphans and finally sent us to the (Mahayana Monastery) in Kathmandu.” When Meena and her brother came to the monastery, they were kept separately. The younger brother and Meena stayed and studied for around 6 years at the monastery. Later, Meena and her siblings got the information that, their mother had also died from HIV AIDS. Meena and her brother became very sad when they got the news of their mother passing away therefore, they left the monastery and came back to their home in Surkhet.
Meena’s elder sister was the only one in the home. Meena shares “She and her siblings cried a lot for many nights as the news of their mother passing away made them very sad.” The financial situation of the family was very tough as there were no relatives, people, or any organizations to support them at that time. The situation was such, that the children had difficulties getting enough food on their plates at times. Their house was also very old and had gotten dilapidated frightening the children at times. Later, the elder sister started working as a wage earner to sustain the family. She also started rearing goats and making alcohol to earn extra. Meena shares,” My sister got me and my brother admitted in Sri Janajagrut Basic School. She also bought us pen and copy.”. Meena and her younger brother started studying but the situation at home wasn’t improving much with just the earning of one person. The situation of the family became all the more difficult when Meena’s sister got married and went to Bardia leaving her and her brother at home.
After the elder sister got married, the financial condition of the house became even weaker. Meena and her brother had to face problems such as, not having enough food to eat. Sometimes, when there was nothing to eat at home, Meena and her brother would cry and fall asleep thinking about their parents. Later, to provide for her and her brother’s food and education, Meena also started rearing goats, carrying sand and gravel, and making alcohol at home. Meena, reflecting on those days says there wasn’t even a day when she was happy. She used to spend her days remembering her father, mother, and sister. Meena also feels that neighbors and community people never cared for her and her brother as they had no parents.
A turning point for Meena came later when she was invited when Aawaaj Nepal was forming a children’s group in the community. Meena was selected as the secretary of the children’s group. Meena was regular in group meetings and participated in all of the discussions. She also received a 5-day youth self-defense training. Meena expresses that she was pleased when she got the training shoes, socks, t-shirts, and tracksuits as it was her first gift that she has gotten. Later, Meena also received food aid when Aawaaj Nepal provided relief to problem-affected households in the community. While staying in the children’s group, Meena also got information about the Child helpline number, 1098. Later, Meena called the child helpline number and shared her problem of not having enough copies and pens, and subsequently, she was provided with a bag, copies, pens as well as winter clothes. Currently, Meena is studying in class 10 and her brother is studying in class 9. Now, the only concern Meena has is, about her studies. Meena says that she is worried about how she will manage to study till 11th and 12th standard as she wants to continue her studies. Meena further shares that she wants to learn some skills so that she can provide for herself and her brother.