“My parents would not talk to me properly and would not cook for me,” says Sampatya. “Although I lived with my parents under one roof, they treated me like a stranger and kept their distance from me, which was heartbreaking.”
Sampatya went to the only place she knew would support her decision — the Compassion center where she was a sponsored child. Both her tutor and the center’s director visited her parents, doing their best to convince them that marrying off Sampatya would have terrible long-term consequences for her.
Sam, the center director at the time, knew how critical it was to support the teen. He had already seen so many young girls, filled with potential and promise, disappear from Compassion’s program, only to find out later that they had been married off by their families.
“We had already lost more than 20 girls who were secretly married off by their parents,” says Sam. “And Sampatya could have been one of those girls. Her ambitions could have ended so easily had she not informed us in time about her [upcoming] marriage. We spent hours talking to her parents about her future.”
Eventually, Sampatya’s parents called off her marriage. Her relationship with them remains strained, but Sampatya says standing up for girls in her community was the right choice. Because of her example, the center conducted several awareness programs to educate village elders about the implications of child marriage. Progress was slow, but even if one girl was saved from an unwanted teen marriage, it was worth it for Sampatya and the staff.