I’ve just received some disappointing news…  I received a letter this morning from Anila who lives in the SOS orphanage we support in Alwaye, southern India.  She’s just completed a degree in fashion design and is one of the brightest young girls I’ve ever met.  She’s 17.

On 7th November, she has been told that she is to be married and will leave the orphanage to start a new life with her, as yet, unseen husband.

When I last saw her in March I asked her what her plans were now that she has achieved her degree qualifications. “I want to open my own shop, just like your versace shop, but with my own designs.” She told me.

Tradition though doesn’t allow for an orphaned girl to have her own shop…

When Kate and I decided to get married, we gathered all of our family around to tell them.  They were all delighted and planned a big party to celebrate. The excitement and joy of our news soon rippled out to our friends, our family friends and even to people we hardly knew.

When I told Kate and our family about Anila’s marriage, I was met with silence.

Tradition, I think, is important, but could it evolve as our values and beliefs change over time?  Tradition after all comes from the past, and in the past orphaned girls in India didn’t have any opportunities to get a degree or even gain employment.  Marriage is a traditional ceremony, especially in India, but I just wonder whether, at 17, tradition could make way for choice…

It would be wrong for me, a westerner, to try to change the traditions of another country, but I can’t help but feel disappointed that such a young girl is now unlikely to fulfill her dreams.

Thanks for reading. Toby