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Photoblog: These Jharkhand Sisters Are Singing Their Way To Victory Over Odds

10/10/2016 5:03 PM IST | Updated 11/10/2016 9:53 AM IST
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As the nation observes International Girl Child Day on 11 October, here's a glimpse into the lives of two sisters from a remote village in Jharkhand who are singing their way to victory.

There was an unmistakable note of confidence and inner strength in their voices as our small talk turned into serious conversation. "Sabke andar yeh baat nahi hoti... kuch toh khaas hoga hum dono mein, jo hum itna duur tak aye (There's definitely something special about us, and that is why we've come such a long away)."

Tanmoy Bhaduri
Saika Bano, 15. and Saleha Bibi, 16, are sisters, both studying in the 11th standard. Both are feisty speakers and both are amazing singers. The only big difference between the two of them is that one of them is married and the other is not.

Tanmoy Bhaduri
You have to cross the Sakri river to reach the little hamlet called Modidih, in the Satgawan Block of Jharkhand. This village is mostly populated by Muslim and Scheduled Caste families.

Tanmoy Bhaduri
Modidih is a village where, till the year 2011, teachers had to spend more time in counselling parents about the importance of education than in teaching children at school.

Tanmoy Bhaduri
Saika and Saleha live here with their mother, Tehmina Bibi. Their father and their elder brothers, all four of them, live with their families in Kolkata. They are all daily wage earners in the city.

Tanmoy Bhaduri
Saleha was married off at the age of twelve. Before she, or any of her family members even realised that what they were doing was wrong, unjust or illegal.

Tanmoy Bhaduri
Born to an orthodox but loving Muslim family, these two sisters were leading their lives like any other girl from their community in their village.

Tanmoy Bhaduri
For them, it was normal that girls stayed at home, learnt how to handle household chores and got married shortly after they hit puberty. That was life.

Tanmoy Bhaduri
Only in Saleha's case, she came back home very shortly after enduring the nightmare of an abusive and violent marriage.

Tanmoy Bhaduri
It was at this juncture that Tehmina Bibi met the man who was going to change the way they looked at life... Md. Alauddin, Head Master of the Middle School in Modidih.

Tanmoy Bhaduri
Not only did he convince Tehmina Bibi to stop thinking of the episode as the end of Saleha's life and to start sending the girls to school, he also spotted their talent.

Tanmoy Bhaduri
Each gifted with an extremely melodious voice, these two sisters started training in singing under their teacher's guidance.

Tanmoy Bhaduri

Tanmoy Bhaduri
He also connected them to Ramadhar Paswan, an excellent singer himself and a member of the field staff of Rashtriya Jharkhand Seva Sansthan—a project supported by CRY (Child Rights and You).

Tanmoy Bhaduri
The rest, as the cliché goes, is history. The two sisters not only went on to win a district-level singing competition, but also came fourth at the state level.

Tanmoy Bhaduri

Tanmoy Bhaduri
Today, these two sisters, work towards spreading awareness about the ill effects of child marriage through programmes conducted by the CRY-supported Rashtriya Jharkhand Seva Sansthan.

Tanmoy Bhaduri
And yes, they are studying in the 11th standard and are in no mood to give up on their education any time soon.

TANMOY BHADURI

"There is no difference between boys and girls, they are all equal. It's our attitude which is wrong. We have now started walking in the right direction, with the right attitude. Insha Allah, my daughters will go a long way... please pray for them brother," says Tehmina Bibi.