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 Education  India Project #32034

Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata

by Tiljala Society for Humans and Educational Development
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Education for 600 Vulnerable Children in Kolkata
Papiya
Papiya

You’ll read below reports from Kolkata about two of our students who are on the brink of completing their school education and who want to continue their studies. This is a huge challenge for them and their very poor families. Financial pressure drives youngsters to give up on education and start work.  Both Papiya and Gopal have disabled fathers and mothers who have been forced to become maidservants in order to make ends meet.  This is a distressingly common scenario. Illiterate men take on labouring jobs which eventually leave them crippled, and their illiterate wives end up as domestic helpers for tiny and unreliable salaries. Papia and Gopal desperately need your help so that they can support their families and avoid the fate of their parents.

PAPIYA is 18 and lives resides in a single room with her family. Her father works as a labourer but as he is handicapped he is not paid proper wages. Her mother works as a maidservant, very exploitative low paid work. She has one brother who dropped out of studies after completing his year 10 examinations. He now works as a labourer for an entrepreneur who rents out sound boxes and mike.

Papiya will be sitting her Class XII examinations next year but desperately needs educational support to continue with her studies.  This is a vulnerable moment for her: many girls complete school and then end up married off without continuing to higher education. With a degree she will truly be able to lift herself and her family out of poverty.

 

GOPAL is also 18. His father is disabled and cannot work properly. His mother works as a maid servant. He has two brothers and one sister.

Gopal is studying in class XII and will be appearing for examinations. His brother and sisters are all studying this puts a lot of financial pressure on the family finances . Gopal works in a catering company to augment family income. The money he earns is spent on his education .If he receives any support this will go a long way towards mitigating financial pressure .He is very keen to continue with his studies  and is also very ambitious.

The families in these two case studies are truly in need, as you’ll read.  But despite this they are determined that the children will stay in education.  This project provides the necessary support to ensure children from Kindergarten upwards are encouraged to stay in education. Every day we run after school classes in our Community Centres where the children come for remedial help with schoolwork. They have computer classes, singing lessons, homework support, sport, drama, nutritious snacks, occasional excursions and health care.  The parents are engaged too: they are almost all illiterate themselves but they understand the importance of education and are encouraged to see the big picture and not to marry their daughters off early or withdraw their sons from school to send them to work.  

Just £11 a month keeps a child like Papiya or Gopal in education.

Gopal
Gopal
Trimming Chappals
Trimming Chappals

When you visit the Topsia canalside squatter community in Kolkata, one of the things you’ll notice is how many men, women and children are engaged in “chappal trimming”. The manufacturer delivers truckloads of untrimmed rubber sandals to the community every morning. Workers are paid 50 rupees (about 58 pence or 72 cents) for trimming twelve dozen pairs. This is exploitative piecework – but many families rely on it to be able to eat.

My colleague, Chanchal, who runs the education project writes….

“RUKSHANA lives with her large family at Mazdoorpara Topsia . Her father Safdar, who was a driver, cannot work after he met with an accident. Now he is involved in trimming slipper straps along with other members of the family. The income from this activity is very low hence there is a perpetual pressure on meeting the basic need of the family. His eldest son has married but does not contribute toward the family expenses. His other son who works in a factory contributes a nominal amount. His eldest daughter who was once married but has separated for her husband also lives with them with her daughter. She works as a maidservant. Her income just about supports her and her daughter.

Rukshana is studying in class X in Panchkari Radharani Adarsha Vidyalaya.

She got admitted in school quite late because of the family’s weak financial position. She tries to help the family by trimming slipper straps.

Tiljala Shed is trying to help her to come up in life by giving her opportunity to learn computer operations and also providing free coaching. She likes to take active part in games so that she remains fit and healthy.

 

SUMAN and his brother SUMIT live at Mazdoorpara Topsia with their family members. Suman studies in class X. His father is Ram from a neighbouring state Bihar. He used to work in a factory and earned enough to maintain his family but he met with an accident and lost his hand while operating a machine. He was laid off and the family earnings plummeted. He along with other members of the family are now involved in trimming slipper straps which is a highly exploitative vocation.  He tried to ply a van rickshaw but found it very difficult and had to give it up. One thing about the parents which is positive is that they want to educate their children who are also very much interested in studying. The brothers are very sincere and help to manage the class when required. They are also good in sports.  We thinks they are very able and with our help they will do well

The boys have a dream to become successful in life and change the fortunes of the family."

The families in these two case studies are truly in need, as you’ll read.  But despite this they are determined that the children will stay in education.  This project provides the necessary support to ensure children from Kindergarten upwards are encouraged to stay in education. Every day we run after school classes in our Community Centres where the children come for remedial help with schoolwork. They have computer classes, singing lessons, homework support, sport, drama, nutritious snacks, occasional excursions and health care.  The parents are engaged too: they are almost all illiterate themselves but they understand the importance of education and are encouraged to see the big picture and not to marry their daughters off early or withdraw their sons from school to send them to work.   

Parveen and Suman have done extremely well. They are both studying in class 10. Until this project began it was unheard of for children in this community to remain in school much beyond class 5 (aged about 10).  There are now dozens of young people who dare to dream of a better future than heavy labour or early marriage.

So if you ever visit the Topsia canalside squatter community, I hope you’ll notice how many young people are in school uniform, carrying books and school bags, perhaps heading off to well-paid work or to college. And that no family needs to trim chappals to feed hungry mouths.

Thank you for your continued support.  We desperately need more donors to help keep this project afloat, so please share this with friends and family.

Rukshana
Rukshana
Suman
Suman
Kashmira loves school and our after school classes
Kashmira loves school and our after school classes

Each time I visit the Topsia Community Centre, I am bowled over by the children's singing.


Tiljala SHED’s 5 community centres are located in the heart of each of the 5 highly vulnerable communities where we work. The Topsia Centre can only be reached by crossing a footbridge over filthy water onto an island where 700 families live in illegal shelters surrounded by the foetid run-off from Kolkata’s sewerage system. Many won’t visit purely because of the smell. For the 150 children who attend our afterschool classes this is the only home they have ever known.


Step into the centre after 3 pm and you’ll be greeted with songs and poems. Although the children do not learn English at school, they have an extraordinary ability to pick up the language from the songs they learn after school. A working knowledge of written and spoken English provides a route out of the slum and into mainstream society. And they know it. If I ask the older ones what they really want, they all agree it is English lessons.


This week, all donations up to $50 (£38) are being matched 60% by GlobalGiving. This means that a £38 donation from a UK tax payer would be worth £70 to us. And that is enough to pay a month’s wages to a dedicated English teacher.
Please consider an additional donation this week or even set up a new regular donation, so that we can appoint English teachers in our 5 centres and give these children this opportunity to change their futures.

About the project
600 children of rag pickers, rickshaw drivers, maidservants, vegetable sellers are enrolled on Tiljala SHED's Education and Child Protection programme. They are required to attend their local government school but in the afternoon they attend remedial classes in T SHED's 5 centres, one in the heart of each community where we work. Here they play, sing, complete their homework, attend remedial sessions and child protection workshops. They love the classes and attendance is very high. Their parents are also closely involved - after all it is only with the parents' consent that the children remain in education and avoid dropping out. Tiljala SHED works very hard to persuade the parents that a proper education is worth the sacrifice of anything a boy might earn rag picking or working in a factory. And infinitely better than marrying off a daughter as soon as she reaches puberty.

 

Kashmira
Kashmira is nearly 7 years old and she lives in the Topsia squatter camp with her family.  Bablu, her father, makes about £1.50 ($2) a day pulling a riskshaw. Her mother, Meena, supplements this meagre income by working as a maidservant for £17 ($22) a month. At the moment, Bablu is sick and hasn’t been able to work for a while.  This is common: hard labour and poverty makes you vulnerable to illness, especially at this time of year when it is so hot. But to meet Kashmira you wouldn’t guess what hardship her family suffers.  She is the life and soul of the Topsia class.  At just 6 years old, she is a natural performer and leads the entire class of around 60 children in singing. She also loves school and is a top performer there too.  But sadly the realities of life in a community like this mean that there is a high chance of Kashmira dropping out of education and being married off as young as 14 to repeat the cycle of poverty, exploitation and child bearing.  All this energy and potential would be wasted. She needs your support to help her stay in education and make a different future fort herself.  It costs just £11 ($15) per month to support a child like Kashmira

Kashmira in Feb 2018
Kashmira in Feb 2018
After school session at Topsia
After school session at Topsia

Links:

Rehan wants to be a software engineer
Rehan wants to be a software engineer

Education is one of the most effective agents of change in society. When a child is able to go to school today, he or she sets off a cycle of positive change. But, thousands of children in India lack access to education and can’t even write their own names. (CRY India)

This is Rehan. He is 15 years old and lives with his parents in a makeshift shelter in the Topsia Canalside Squatter Camp, a narrow strip of land with huge open sewers running down either side. There is no proper sanitation, no toilets and the 2 drinking water taps (for 710 families) operate for just a few hours a day. Many of the residents here are rag pickers but all work in the informal economy: rickshaw drivers, fruit sellers, daily labourers. Illiteracy, child marriage, child labour, domestic abuse, alcoholism and substance abuse are rife. Rehan’s father is a rickshaw driver earning Rs3000 – 4000 (£33 - £44) per month. His mother is a housewife. Rehan’s older siblings have all married and moved away.

I met Rehan in Tiljala SHED’s Topsia community centre where he and 47 other youngsters gather after school every day for computer classes, remedial education evening classes and to meet as members of the Child Club. This group of young people astonished me: they explained how they are guardians of child protection in the community, how they recently had a child marriage stopped by going to the right authorities, how they know which children are labouring rather than going to school, that they know where abuse is happening. I asked them about themselves. Rehan told me he wants to be a software engineer. His friend Afsar is a talented dancer and would like to make a living from dancing. “If that doesn’t work” he told me “I want to be a policeman”. The girls laughed when I asked about marriage. Their mothers were married in their mid-teens, but the girls have bigger ambitions. Resham wants to be a journalist and Saika a scientist. Marriage is definitely not in the plan yet. All of them asked for English lessons.

Tiljala SHED is doing such amazing work in these desperately deprived communities and the ambitions of these young people are, to me, a potent sign of what can be done to lift society’s most vulnerable communities. There has never been, as far as we know, a single university graduate come out of the Topsia Squatter camp. Rehan and the others are determined to change that.

There is one more hero in this story. Rehan’s father, the rickshaw driver. From his meagre earnings he sends his son to a private English Medium School. It costs Rs600 (£6.70) per month and must be a huge sacrifice for the parents. But this is their investment in the future.

It is such a commonplace that the men in these communities are so broken by hard physical labour and the shame of poverty that they turn to drink and violence. “Oh, the husband is a useless fellow” my colleagues often say when I interview the women. Rehan’s father breaks the mould.

Tiljala SHED wants to do everything possible to support Rehan, his father’s dreams and all the bright ambitious young people in Topsia and the other rag picker communities where we work. But we need help desperately.

To provide each of the 600 children with remedial education, the child protection activities, nutrition, sport, computer classes, occasional excursions, access to healthcare etc. costs just Rs 1000 per month. Or £11per month per child

 

For a fraction of what we in the UK would spend on an hour’s maths tuition you could give hope to a rag picker’s child in Kolkata for a whole month.

Girls in the child club
Girls in the child club
Rehan and his friends - making a difference
Rehan and his friends - making a difference
Rehan
Rehan's home
Tarannum
Tarannum

Education is the single most powerful way out of poverty. 600 of the most vulnerable children from the squatter camps of central Kolkata are enrolled in Tiljala SHED’s education programme. It costs just £11 or US$15 per month to give a child the chance to lift him or herself out of destitution, abuse and hopelessness. Thanks to your generosity we are able to help Tarannum and hundreds like her...

Report from the field...

Tarannum

Tarannum is a very bright girl, 14 years, from Topsia Canalside squatters is now studying in class V. Her father is an alcoholic and drives a rickshaw. He seldom contributes to his family. The change maker is her mother who is a maid servant working in two different houses and earns an income of Rs.6000 per month. One of her sisters has been deserted by her husband, she also stays with her two daughters in this house.
Tarannum is a very ambitious girl and wants to become a teacher and support her family. She lost few years in school as she was in her village. She is now studying hard to reach her goal. She regularly attends our coaching centre and is very much motivated to continue her studies as once upon a time she wanted to quit from her studies. Her mother has also taken a loan and has purchased the rickshaw for her husband but her husband drives only intermittently

 

About the project
600 children of rag pickers, rickshaw drivers, maidservants, vegetable sellers are enrolled on Tiljala SHED's Education and Child Protection programme. They are required to attend their local government school but in the afternoon they attend remedial classes in T SHED's 5 centres, one in the heart of each community where we work. Here they play, sing, complete their homework, attend remedial sessions and child protection workshops. They love the classes and attendance is very high. Their parents are also closely involved - after all it is only with the parents' consent that the children remain in education and avoid dropping out. Tiljala SHED works very hard to persuade the parents that a proper education is worth the sacrifice of anything a boy might earn rag picking or working in a factory. And infinitely better than marrying off a daughter as soon as she reaches puberty.

Tarannum at home
Tarannum at home
 

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Organization Information

Tiljala Society for Humans and Educational Development

Location: Kolkata - India
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @TiljalaSHED
Project Leader:
Jane Manson
Kolkata, India

Important Notice about Projects in India

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