Sandhya was just 11 when she saw a girl as old as herself getting married to a boy barely in his teens. She remembers the unhappy face of the child bride, who wanted to study but was forced to marry by her ragpicker parents for fear of bigger dowry demand later on.

Visiting her village in Bihar’s Nalanda district, Sandhya was anxious about whether she too was headed for a similar fate. She is eternally grateful to NGO Waste Pickers Welfare Foundation for preventing this. The worriless Class VII student now aspires to learn classical dance and become an actress.

Waste Pickers Welfare Foundation set up an informal study centre in a shack among the jhuggis where Sandhya’s family lived. Finding that persuasion went only so far, the NGO began to persuade parents of young girls to sign a hand-written pledge that they would not marry off their daughters before they turned 18.

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