Children’s Group Leader Tackles Drug Menace In Kashmir
Fourteen-year-old Sanya is a firebrand and a fiercely outspoken child leader charting new territories even where the adults have had limited success. Her sense of duty and determination to bring change is inspiring. When children in a neighbourhood in Kashmir were scared of going to the government school because of opium cultivation outside the school premises, Sanya took it upon herself to right the wrong and ensure children’s rights were not violated.
The open land outside a government school in Srinagar was being used for growing opium, exposing the children to the risk of drug trafficking and addiction. Sanya reached out to the community to tackle this menace and roped in socio-religious leaders to raise awareness against drugs and substance abuse.
“We got together and burnt down the entire opium crop and cleared the ground in front of our school. We also conducted sensitisation sessions at the community level and door to door home visits to emphasize the negative impact of drugs on society and families,” said Sanya. Today, the land is being used as a community playground for children.
What gave her the courage to take on this fight against drugs? “I owe a lot to Bal Raksha Bharat. During our sessions with them, I learned about child rights. While growing up, I was not aware that I have the right to speak and raise concerns about myself and other children. It is only because of the orientation and through the Children’s Group that I got the courage to speak up for our rights and dared to fight against the violations,” she said.
But her work didn’t stop there. Sanya focussed her attention on sensitising children about what she learned in the Children’s Group meetings. “Along with some of my friends, I went to the homes of children who have dropped out of school and urged their parents to enrol them back to school. We went door to door to assess the number of child labour cases in the area. During the pandemic, we also raised awareness on COVID safety protocols and behaviour,” she said.
Sanya has honed her leadership skills and has the confidence to identify, speak and raise her voice against issues that negatively impact children. “Why should I be afraid? As the president of the Children’s Group, I was delighted to lead their voices.”
What’s next for her? “I want to pursue a degree in Law and become a Judge,” pat came her reply.
*Name changed to protect the identity of the child