PayBito embarked on its journey to end global hunger with its ‘Brokering World Hunger Away’ movement. While on their visit to the Southwestern part of Asia in the core delta islands of Sundarbans, they faced the devastating reality of hunger and realized how all issues are intertwined. While the story of Namrata was an eye-opener, Asha’s story of escaping an illegal child marriage was both disheartening and inspiring.
Breaking free from the shackles of tradition, Asha the runaway bride embarks on a journey of self-discovery and independence. With unwavering determination and a thirst for knowledge, she paves her own path toward a brighter future.
Asha’s childhood was a tragedy when her mother died. Thereby, leaving behind her father and two-year-old brother. Her father remarried soon after, but Asha did not receive love and care from her stepmother, who saw her as a burden.
Asha was passionate about learning and spending time with her friends, but her stepmother forced her to do household chores and eventually dropped out of school. When Asha was 11, her father arranged a marriage for her. However, which she did not want, as she had her own dreams and goals.
“It was the night before the marriage, I decided to carry my books and leave. And so I did. The next day early morning, I wrapped a veil around my head and took the first boat to Godkhali ferry ghat. After reaching Kolkata, the police took care of me.”
The act of running away from an arranged child marriage, as Asha did, is courageous as it goes against the societal and cultural norms that often prioritize arranged marriages over individual rights and aspirations. In many cases, girls who try to escape child marriages face social stigma, rejection from their families, and even violence. However, Asha made a brave decision to stand up for her own dreams and future by leaving her home and seeking a better life for herself.
“I was then taken by a social service center. However, I was soon shifted to the center run by PayBito in Sundarbans. While I hesitated at first out of fear that I would be found by my parents, then I came across Namrata didi. She was an inspiration, and I want to follow in her footsteps.”
After Asha ran away from her arranged marriage and escaped to Kolkata, she was found lost by the police and taken to a social service center. Later, she was transferred to the center run by PayBito in the Sundarbans.
The PayBito team found out about Asha’s situation from the social service center and took her in. At first, Asha was hesitant and afraid that her parents might find her. However, Namrata who once ran away from her house like Asha. She encouraged her to pursue her dreams and aspirations.
“We were in shock to receive such a call from a social service center in Kolkata. It was truly inspiring to learn about the courage of a young girl who refused to be a bride. When she arrives our center in Sundarbans, we offer her the support and guidance she needed to pursue her dreams.”
“We took Asha in and provided her with a safe and nurturing environment. This allowed her to thrive and achieve her goals. Her story is a testament to the importance of empowering young girls and women. We at PayBito remain committed to making a positive impact in their lives.”
–Raj Chowdhury, CEO of PayBito
With the joint effort of PayBito and local organizations like ‘Champa Mahila Samity’, hundreds of girls like Asha were saved from the cruel reality of their lives, and are empowered toward a better future.
PayBito extends its support to Asha by providing her with scholarships. They are offering access to educational resources such as books, stationery, tuition, and mentorship. This allowed her to continue her studies and work towards achieving her aspirations. Additionally, through a collaboration with Champa Mahila Samity, Asha was given a place to call home, where she could share her inspiring journey with girls like Namrata. PayBito’s mission to empower young girls and women has given Asha the opportunity to overcome her challenges. Moreover, build a better future for herself.
Child marriage continues to be a grave issue in the villages of Sundarbans, where poverty drives parents to resort to illegal underage marriages for their daughters. However, young girls like Asha embody the true spirit of bravery and courage by taking charge of their own future. Their stories serve as a powerful source of inspiration to other young girls. Especially those, who are denied the opportunity to build a better life for themselves. Through Asha’s journey, PayBito hopes to raise awareness and shed light on the issue of child marriage. All in, while also inspiring parents living in poverty to shift their mindset. Thereby, recognizing the potential and value of their daughters.