Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Who Made My Clothes? Profile 1 of 6: Sondia's Story

Name: Sondia
Age: 24
Married: no
Children: no

Sondia is a very confident and strong young woman even though she didn't always have it easy in life. When she was 2 ½ years old her mother died of cancer. She and her siblings were living with their father who remarried soon after because he couldn't take care of the children by himself.
 “If I get married and my husband would die I'd be alone after that and couldn't take care of the children, that's why I don't want to get married.” 
Her stepmother left the family when Sondia was 16. Her father married once again and shortly afterwards became very sick as well. Soon after Sondia also lost her father, leaving the family very poor; they have a little house but no money and hardly any education. Sondia dropped out of school after the 5th grade because the family couldn't afford the fees anymore, all their money was spent for her mother’s cancer treatment.

“I still want to go to school, but it's too expensive. I need to earn money and can't afford my education. I've always wanted to become a police officer.”

Sondia has been a part of Sambhali since she was 14 years old. Despite her young age she was able to support the family and even now it helps her to be financially independent. She likes to be around the other women and the international volunteers which are mostly the same age as her. But in India it is very rare to be unmarried at the age of 24. Young women feel pressure not just from society, but from their families too.

“My brother is very nice, but he wants me to get married now. He is 28 and also not married. He says I need to get married first and he will get married after me. I'm not fighting with him. I will get married this year, I don't want to but it's time now.”

Sondia's brother always took care of her and the younger siblings and she respects him a lot. In India arranged marriages are the norm, especially in rural areas and smaller cities. The families look for a suitable husband for their daughters and often the girls don't take part in the decision. After the marriage the girl moves to live with her husband who takes responsibility for her from then on. Sondia’s family hasn’t yet found a husband for her but she hopes that she will have the chance to continue to work at Sambhali in the future because she dreams of having her own boutique one day.
 “I hope my future husband will be like a friend and not like a husband. I hope he will understand my feelings and will respect me.”

No comments: