From Victim to Crusader

At her age, Anoyara Khatun’s life is a far cry from that of an average 22 year old.

Her genial face belies the grit, resolve and a fierce dedication to a cause that she strongly believes in, and one that has earned her recognition as a champion of children’s rights today. When you meet her, it comes as no surprise especially when you see that this gutsy girl has managed to transform not just her own life but also that of many others like her.

As a five-year-old in Sandeshkhali village in the North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, Anoyara suffered a deep emotional setback when her father passed away suddenly one day. As he was the sole breadwinner of the family, the death proved to be a major setback for her siblings and their mother. She struggled through a difficult childhood and decided to drop out of school to look for work to help her mother.

As luck would have it, traffickers took advantage of her situation and sent her to Delhi where she got a job as a house maid with a family. Soon, things turned out to be scary, and nothing like what they promised it would be. She longed to escape. Thankfully, she didn’t have to put up with it for long as she was rescued by a children’s rights organisation who ensured that she was sent back to her family.

Once home, she realised how lucky she was and, in a moment of defiance against what she had just gone through, she decided to do something to save other children like herself, who were not as fortunate as she was! That’s when her journey as an activist began.

Anoyara knew poverty was one of the root causes for the girl child to be exploited so rampantly. In her district, she knew it would not be easy to stop a child marriage or keep families from sending their children with traffickers. So she formed a network of children’s groups in villages where the young learn about their rights and collectively intervene to stop cases of trafficking, child marriage and child labour in their neighbourhoods.

These children’s groups, each having about 10-20 members managed to stop as many as 50 child marriages from taking place. As these groups sprung into action, they rescued 80 child labourers, prevented 200 children from being trafficked and enrolled 400 children into primary schools.

In the initial years when she had started her work in her village, the villagers did not take her seriously. “I faced a lot of criticism, but now things have changed. People have started listening to me,” the young activist says. 

In India, which is considered to be the home to the largest number of child labourers in the world, girls like Anoyara who challenge the status quo and work for the rights of children at the grassroots level are an inspiration for all. Her efforts may be like a drop in the ocean but every little counts because small changes create ripples that lead on to bigger changes at the social level.

Her journey as a champion of children’s rights regularly brings her in touch with many child activists from different countries who have suffered more trouble in their lives than her, but are now united in leading the fight for change in the society they live in. Each one working towards making a small difference in their own way. After all, every little helps!

Success is not final, failure is not fatal; It is the courage to continue that counts.


—Winston Churchill


This post has been written for the We Are the World Blogfest, a monthly event created by Damyanti Biswas and Belinda Witzenhausen to showcase heartwarming stories of hope and light of real-life heroes from around the world, that show love, humanity and brotherhood in a world filled with negativity and hatred otherwise. 

The hosts for this month are Damyanti BiswasSimon FalkMary J GieseDan Antion and Shilpa Garg. Don’t forget to check out their WATWB posts and those of other WATWB participants to get inspired and feel a surge of positivity within you. You’re most welcome to share stories that you may have come across—particularly those that help spread hope and positivity. 

Until next time, lets aim to stay hopeful and be positive! 🙂 


17 thoughts

    1. Thank you for visiting. Looking forward to seeing you here again. Please subscribe to get notifications for future posts.

    1. Thank you so much, Corinne. I thought it was so inspiring for her to try and turn the misery she faced into something so very positive for the others who suffered her fate. Happy to share this one. 🙂

  1. An extremely heartwarming story. The attitude that Anoyara showed in her life, is worth emulating. There are multiple ways we all can react to situations. But the sort of positive one that Anoyara showed is what is needed.

  2. Brave girl, indeed! We so need more young women like Anoyara, because we know how much our society needs them! Especially the children coming from the lower strata.

  3. Hats off to Anoyara! Not many can turn around their destiny to spread such positivity in others life. We need more people like her. Thanks for sharing Anoyara’s story with us, Esha!

    1. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your encouraging thoughts. I’m finding a lot of positivity from the #WATWB stories that are going around. Happy to share this one too. 🙂

    1. Thanks Suzy. Happy to know you liked her story. Yes, we need more people like her to carry on the good work.

  4. So good to hear Anoryara’s story. Hats off to her for her amazing courage and the work she is doing now. Shows us that determination can overcome adversity of any kids. Thanks for sharing Esha.

    1. Yes, Rachna. You are right. She is amazing in her courage to fight back and not just accept her fate. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, Rachna.

  5. This is such an amazing story of hope and inspiration! Anoyara is truly courageous to not only stand up for herself, but also for many others! More power to her and may her tribe increase. Thanks for sharing this positive story, Esha!

    1. Thank you so much, Shilpa. Positive stories need to be shared and I’m so glad through WATWB I am able to do so. Reading all these inspiring tales makes us feel so much good is still happening all around us, don’t you think?

  6. This is such an amazing story of hope and inspiration! Anoyara is truly courageous to not only stand up for herself, but also for many others! More power to her and may her tribe increase.

  7. Whoa what an amazingly gutsy girl and her will power to overcome her odds to work so hard to not only stop trafficking but face the resistance of her fellow villagers, which I feel was the biggest challenge. Thnsk you for sharing such positivity Esha- I love the WATWB stories.

    1. Oh yes, She is gutsy, isn’t she? Positive thinking and will power are two prerequsites to bringing about change in this planet and I think the fact she did not resign to the powers that be or her fate after made all the difference. I feel so inspired sharing her story with everyone on the blog today. In fact all the WATWB stories are such positive tales…hard not to be charged with positivity.

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