Sarthak, aged 9, comes from the village of Sonewadi in Maharashtra, India. He lives with his father, mother and four sisters in a two roomed, tin roofed house. The total household income for the family is the equivalent of £1.60 per day.
Sarthak came into contact with the project through his local Child Parliament. The project’s Child Parliaments encourage children to shape their future though collective decision making on issues that are of importance to them. They also play a role in educating children on issues such as education, child rights and gender equality. Sarthak had the role of Health Minister with his local Parliament which meant he was responsible for raising awareness of hygiene and sanitation with his fellow students.
However Sarthak’s Mother was concerned about Sarthak’s performance at school. Though he had lots of energy he rarely focussed on his studies and spent much of his time playing and joking. Through the Child Parliament the project team heard about Sarthak’s difficulty with his school work. A project social worker started to give individual attention to Sarthak and to convince him of the necessity of thinking about his future. He encouraged Sarthak to apply his energy in school as well as in the Child Parliament.
With one on one care Sarthak has started to show a real interest in his studies. He goes to his teachers with anything he does not understand and studies with his friends so they can help each other. Through the Child Parliament he has begun acting in street theatre plays designed to inform children of the importance of education. He has also started growing vegetables like potatoes and chillies at the front of his house.
Now Sarthak is studying for the state scholarship programme. His Mother has noticed a huge improvement in his grades and is very grateful to the project for helping her son reach his full potential. None of this would have been possible without the project and its supporters.
Often parents in India pull their children out of school so they can work to supplement the meagre family income. In order that kids stay in school the needs of parents to earn a decent income must be addressed. That is why the project looks to give women livelihood opportunities in sewing and stitching. With the income they earn families are better able to support their children’s continuing education.
Rubina, 25, lives in the village of Kerula with her husband and three small children. Her husband works as a driver and earns around £50 per month. Before she contacted the project Rubina spent most of her day taking care of the children and doing household chores.
Rubina had dropped out of school after 10th standard like many young girls in Indian society. When a team member told Rubina about the project’s free vocational skills course for women she didn’t have the confidence to enrol. But with some encouragement from the project worker she agreed to take a place in the stitching and sewing course.
During the one month course Rubina was able to leave her children with the project crèche while she took classes. She quickly excelled and after she graduated from the course Rubina was stitching pillows and curtains to a professional standard. But without a sewing machine of her own Rubina couldn’t practise or use her new skills at home.
The course teacher was able to lend Rubina an old sewing machine so she could practise until she was in a position to buy a machine of her own. After a few months Rubina’s husband agreed to pay the money to buy a new sewing machine. It wasn’t long before Rubina was bringing in income from orders from the neighbouring villages.
Without the project and its supporters Rubina would not have found the confidence to learn a new skill and earn income of her own. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity this has afforded her.
The project team are working hard to reach their set targets of helping 10,000 kids to stay in education and break the cycle of poverty that has kept their parents and grandparents marginalised and exploited. They complete project reports every quarter where they evaluate progress made in the previous three months work.
The project has health, livelihood and education aspects to it. In the last quarter the education aspect of the project has achieved some fantastic results:
Daughters are often not as valued as sons in India. Traditional rural attitudes say that it is better to educate and care for boys. One of the aims of the project team is to educate the local community on the value of girls to the family and society as well as the benefits of keeping girls in education and out of early marriage. Preeti’s story shows what fantastic work the team are doing:
Preeti, two years old, lives with her mother and two elder sisters in a two roomed hut in the district of Ahmednagar in Sangamner. Preeti’s mother is out all day working as an agricultural labourer. Her father travels for work. The family have very little money. As a result of the lack of care and resources, Preeti went uncared for. When the project team first learned of Preeti in May 2014 she was just 6.5kg and was clinically diagnosed as severely malnourished.
The project team met with Preeti’s mother and convinced her to send Preeti to the team’s paediatric camps for malnourished children as well as the enrolling her in the local preschool centre. As per the doctor’s advice Preeti was proscribed supplementary nutrition to bring her back to full health. Project team members also alerted the local women’s self-help group to the family’s situation. The women members of the group visited the home to offer Preeti’s mother support and advice.
With careful monitoring by the project doctor Preeti is slowly being brought back to full health. She has gained 2kg and though she still has weight to put on to be fully healthy she is making good progress. She comes daily to the preschool centre and has made very good friends there.
Preeti’s mother has also benefited massively. She is a regular member of the local women’s self-help group and now works to convince others of the equal value of women and girls to society. She is hugely grateful to the project and all its supporters for the transformation she has been able to achieve.
Pintu, aged 6, lives in a small mud hut with his parents, two brothers and one sister. His family are from a Nomadic Tribe, a highly excluded community in India who are often denied their most basic human rights. Pintu’s Dad earns money selling small plastic goods and his Mother works in a cloth shop. Both parents are away from home throughout the day and are unable to care properly for Pintu. Being uneducated and illiterate themselves, Pintu’s parents saw little point in enrolling him in school and providing him with an education.
An essential aspect of the projects work is to carry out enrolment drives throughout the region. Local communities are taught the importance of keeping their children in school. They are taught the dangers of child labour and early marriage. The team use mass postering, local meetings and family visits to convince parents of the benefits of education.
As part of the campaign the project had sent a letter to Pintu’s parents encouraging them to enrol him in the local primary school. They followed up with a personal visit to the family. Pintu’s parents agreed to receiving help from the project team to enrol Pintu. Because the family could not afford it, the team also agreed to provide Pintu with educational material such as bags, uniform and stationary.
After overcoming some initial hesitation Pintu attends school regularly and is doing very well. He has become popular amidst his class mates and was elected class monitor. The project team make regular school visits to discuss Pintu’s progress with his teachers. They also provide support to his parents. Though they themselves did not receive an education they have seen the benefit in their son and are happy to keep him in school.
Thanks to the project and its supporters Pintu and other Dalit and Nomadic children like him will receive a full education. This would not have been possible without your support.
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