Planet Mars Foundation – a safe home for Karnataka’s at-risk girl children.
The promising growth and urban glitz of Bangalore overshadows the extreme poverty and backwardness of the State’s northern districts. Karnataka has one of the highest levels of intra-regional inequality; with a GSDP of 8.5% in 2017-18 on the one side and rampant poverty and underdevelopment, in over 12 northern districts, on the other.
North Karnataka has the highest concentration of poverty, malnutrition and illiteracy in the state. Agriculture is minimal, owing to the region’s extremely rocky terrain, mostly comprising dry stretches of land, and severe water scarcity. Most people are landless labourers with no fixed income. The region also accounts for one of the highest incidences of child marriages in the country. Poverty, lack of education and patriarchal set ups are pushing an increasing number of girls into the practice, year after year, putting their health and lives at risk. Gender discrimination is also rampant, with few girls entering primary school, and many subjected to abandonment and domestic violence.
As a young NGO in Udupi, dedicated to girl child welfare and development, Planet Mars Foundation supports disadvantaged girls from North Karnataka’s backward districts. The first 30 girls who are now part of PMF family were identified through a thorough screening process. The PMF team visited backward villages and homes in North Karnataka district, identifying orphan and destitute girls with the support of local social workers. The shortlisted candidates were then referred to Child Welfare Committee for further screening, paperwork and approval. These girls now receive long-term overall support, including education, health and nutrition, all in a safe and caring environment.
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