Guest post by Hayley Van Allen, CorStone Intern.
Chada is a young girl in 8th grade, living in a small village in rural Bihar, India. Chada participated in CorStone’s Girls First program, which is a resilience-based program to help marginalized girls improve their emotional, social, and physical well-being. We checked in with her just after she had completed the program.
A helping spirit
Chada told us that she has really changed since participating in the Girls First program. “I have learnt that when someone is in trouble, we should try to help them get out of trouble.” Chada feels that this helping spirit should extend beyond people to animals as well. In Girls First, she also learned problem solving skills, and she put these skills to the test one day on her way home from school. “Once when I was coming back from school, I saw that a goat had fallen in a small river. It had managed to come to the bank of the river but was hung up there unable to get out of water and was crying. There were 6-7 of us girls when we saw it struggling to come out. I told them that I was going to save it. One of my sisters who is a year elder to me held my hand and I pulled the goat out of the water.”
Chada has also learned to solve her own problems in Girls First, even when they bring up difficult emotions. “When I am in trouble, now I try to go to the root of the problem to understand why it is happening. For example, once I found out that my aunt was not coming to visit us for a festival.” Chada was feeling sad and also angry at her aunt about this. But she was able to use the skills she learned about handling her negative emotions, and the skills she learned about solving problems. “I tried to find the root cause of the problem. It turned out her daughter was sick and that was why she was not coming. So I suggested for her to get some medicines for her daughter so that she gets well. After she gave medicine to her daughter she got well and now she is able to come. So I went to the bottom of the problem and found a solution.”
Gaining confidence as a girl
Since attending Girls First, her outlook on what she can and cannot do as a girl has changed as well. In her community, many girls are not permitted to move about freely; their mobility is almost completely restricted by male members of their families. But Chada feels differently now. “I feel that even though I am a girl I can go wherever I want to.”
A domino effect
Chada also told us that her relationships with her family have improved. She even told her mother about what she had learned. “I told her about health, then about what we learned about menstruation, and also about the qualities of our character. I also told her about emotional support.” The Girls First program has helped not only Chada, but has had a domino effect as Chada shares what she has learned with others.
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