A year ago, Rajeswari’s parents tried to force her into an illegal marriage.

Rajeswari was flying high after she passed her 10th Standard exams last year when she went home for the summer break. Little did she know that her parents had arranged for her to get married, at age 15.

Rajeswari was devastated. She pleaded with her parents, saying “I want to study and complete my education!” Relatives and friends also tried intervening with her parents. But her parents had already spent significant money arranging the marriage, and wouldn’t listen.

Despite Indian laws against child marriage dating back to 1929, more than a quarter of India girls are still married by the time they turn 18.

Rajeswari attempted suicide two days before her wedding date.

Luckily, Rajeswari had an uncle who — after consulting with the local police — persuaded her parents to cancel the wedding.

He brought Rajeswari back to Melpattambakkam, her LPGM-sponsored boarding home. There, she received care, counseling and support. And even while her parents fumed about the cancelled wedding and refused to visit her, she finished third in her class last year.

This year is her final year of secondary school, and Rajeswari has high hopes for her future. She proudly wants to share her story as an example of what your sponsorship means to girls like her in India. You help her raise her voice against injustices that many girls still face.

Author Dan Ruth

Dan Ruth is the executive director of LPGM and an ordained minister in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

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