But weren’t parents concerned about allowing their daughters to live outside the village? “Yes. That first year, we literally bused the parents to Jodhpur to show them the facilities that we would be providing the girls.” Although Veerni had space for 50 girls, only 39 showed up. Still, the situation improved quickly. Parents were favorably impressed with the change in their daughters after that first year. In the villages people speak a dialect. But after a year at Veerni, says Sharma, “the girls came back speaking proper Hindi in such a good manner.” They also had a newfound confidence. Word spread that the girls getting an education from Veerni might have prospects beyond just keeping house. Suddenly it seemed possible that they could get paying jobs that they could contribute to a family’s income. What is Veerni’s track record? So far 99 Veerni students have graduated from high school. Of these, 69 have gone on to pursue training beyond high school, and about 12 of them have landed jobs. Most remarkable, says Sharma, has been the transformation of the parents.
For the original version including any supplementary images or video, visit http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/10/27/452250215/why-a-school-for-child-brides-made-villagers-mad-at-first?utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=news
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