“Mujhe parvatarohi banana hai!”(I want to become a mountaineer!) says Pratibha Sharma, a dreamer and an achiever. She aspires to become a mountaineer and climb Mount Everest one Many Goals to Achieve, Many Mountains to Climb day and, alongside, her ambition is to become an engineer. An articulate 18-year old from village Imarti(block Pahadi, district Mirzapur), Pratibha is is now the designated GARIMA ResourceCentre.
Today the girls are empowered and can raise their demands directly with the district officials, arrange a mode of transport by contributing money and visit the District Commissioner and the District Magistrate to submit their demands and share their aspirations. They are monitors for implementation of Open Defecation Free Village campaign, Swatch Bharat Mission, and weight monitoring days under Integrated Child Development Services. Pratibha has ensured that her absence does not become an impediment to the development endeavours undertaken in the village.
“The same people who used to criticise me for stepping out, calling me shameless, praise me now and want their daughters to be like me! What more can I ask for?” -Pratibha
Being accepted as a change agent was not easy, but it was a challenge well taken by Pratibha. Today the whole village, especially adolescent girls, rally behind Pratibha. Ably guided, these adolescent girls too have become beacons of change. They know their rights and have started claiming them. One of GARIMA’s focal points, dignity and privacy for women and girls, propelled Pratibha and these dedicated adolescents to reach out to the Gram Pradhan, and block and district officials and make a formal demand for toilets and bathrooms, an incinerator and improvement of drainage system in the village. As a result the Gram Pradhan has given a clearance for construction of community toilets and
bathrooms, and an incinerator in the village. Alongside, Pratibha sensitised women and girls against open defecation and bathing in the open, and urged families to construct toilets. Once convinced, families made small investments and built temporary bathrooms with gunny bags and bamboo, where women and girls can change their menstrual absorbents during periods. She has put the idiom ‘practice before you preach’ to good use, having led by example and toiling hard to get a bathroom made in her house.
Pratibha and the girls, through their incessant efforts, have also got a dedicated space