Hema is 15 years old comes from Sera village, Gairsain, in the Uttranchal Mountains of India. The village is nine kilometers from the road to the upper valley. People there still wear traditional woolen clothes and their houses are made of mud and wood with a slate roof.

Hema attended one of the Mountain Children's Forum children's camps in Shri Bhuvneshwari Mahila Ashram. Here, we share lots of information about the environment, sanitation, nutrition and giving children a voice through the Mountain Children's Forum. Our aim is to give each child strength and confidence.

Hema was one of the shyest girls in the camp but when we visited her in her village, we found that she had taken our discussions to heart and put them into practice….

When Hema went back to her village after the camp, she did an amazing thing. She called a meeting and told everyone about what she had learned. She talked about the problem in the village and the need for education. She also proposed that they should have a Balwadi (pre-school) in their village.

When the village asked why, she gave a very simple and logical answer: "Children are not safe because when you all go to collect fodder, fetch water or whatever, you leave your children on their own. Sometimes they hurt themselves or give the other people in the village a hard time." The villagers were impressed with her arguments and agreed to open a Balwadi. She is now running Apni Balwari smoothly with 20 children.

Hema also made the village aware of the need to clean the village's drinking water stream and village path. She even tried to rebuild a broken wall around the reserve forest and told her friends why they should think about the forest and the environment.

Hema seems to be determined to bring awareness to the people, especially the children, of her Village. It was great to see that she has this tremendous excitement about making her village and her own life better.

(SBMA assists her by giving her training and supplies for the Balwadi and has now agreed to adopt the Sera Balwari and give it partial assistance - as per its Apni Balwari policy)

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