Damini [Hindi for "lightning"] is the namesake for our project and our beloved student. She died of severe sepsis in Varanasi in 2013 at the age of 16. Damini's life illustrates in many ways the tasks that arise on site, the problems and controversies that children and teachers are confronted with on a daily basis - and for which there is seldom a pre-formulated or simple solution. For which one all too often fails.
After her father had already promised her to several man as a future bride, he tried to lure her away from he boarding home. In return for the promise of giving away his daughter, he had received money. Now, the "grooms" wanted to get the girl - but Damini refused. Eventually, Damini's father kidnapped her from the hostel in May 2013 and hid her in her home village.
Attempts to free them from there also failed due to the lack of clout of the authorities in the rural areas and their willingness to deal with these "animals", as we were told by the police. In the end, after weeks, she managed to escape back to our boarding school in Varanasi on her own. What we didn't know: While in the village, her mother and her aunt had given her liquor and made her drunk. Afterwards, they took Damini to one "fiancé". She was given to him for one night so that he could "try" her out. She was raped and placed in front of the hut door the morning after. Full of shame, she didn't dare to talk about it until shortly before her death.
A few weeks later, she fell ill with an infectious disease that has not yet been clarified, which led to her death within three weeks, maybe also due to inadequate medical treatment.
After ten years, we still miss her. Her
laughter, her sparkling joy when she danced, her eagerness in class, her zest for life. We want her to be remembered forever, and we want to spend the rest of our lives fighting for her sisters
and brothers - kids that don't get to have a childhood, an education, a real chance of succeeding in life.