Teenage journalist in India’s Uttarakhand fights for children’s rights, helps enroll girl from poor family into school.
Luxmi Nautiyal brings us the inspiring story of Prerna, a young community member and a child reporter in Gaisain, Uttarakhand who is committed to community welfare. At the tender age of 14, Prerna (the name means ‘inspiration’) has been reporting on children’s issues within her community and also helping young community members exercise their rights such as accessing education.
Prerna was trained as a child reporter by a local NGO called Shri Bhuvaneshwari Mahila Ashram or SBMA. In 2005 SBMA started a special initiative called Umang(means Exuberance) under which it has been making local children aware of community issues and training them to report on those issues.
Prerna, like other group members reports on child exploitation, child labour and child marriage which are among the burning problems in her community. During her work recently came to learn about another child called Ganga – a girl from a remote village and a poor family who couldn’t go to school as she did not have a birth certificate.
Prerna led her fellow Umang group members in finding out how they could get Ganga admitted in a school. They consulted several community members and senior NGO workers. At the end, they learnt a lot about Right to Information Act, procedure to get a birth certificate and get admission in schools. Above all, they managed to get Ganga admitted in a school.
All through this, Prerna proved her leadership qualities in her community – a fact that has now made her an inspiration for other young community members.
Luxmi who had also been associated with Umang as a child, says that it is very important to report on the good works that the child reporters and activists are doing, so that they feel motivated. She also feels that the idea of training children as child reporters is worth following by others because this is a great way to instill leadership qualities in children, as well as help them contribute to the empowerment of their communities by documenting community stories.