For the first time in three years, Githmal did not go to Gujurat to work in the cotton fields. His eldest brother, who usually tends the fields at home, has gone in his place. In Gujurat he made 100 rupees a month, 20 of which were deducted for meals and accommodation. In the end, he received closer to 80 rupees a month. At 13 years old, Githmal has only attended one month of school several years ago. His inability to read, write or count proved especially challenging during his work in Gujurat where he was not quite sure if he was receiving fair wages for the work he was doing and could not fully advocate for himself.
When he was still an infant, his father developed a mental illness and was unable to work or care for the family. Githmal and his elder brother were then looked upon to financially support their mother and two younger sisters. Over the past year and a half, however, Githmal’s sisters, who are now older, have begun helping their mother at home, tending to the livestock (2 oxen and 5 goats) and fields. One of his younger sisters, Lanka, is also attending camp with him. Lanka also attended a Shiksha Kendra/NFE last year.
Both his mother and brother urged him to attend camp this year after a Seva Mandir Zone coordinator visited their village to inform the community about the upcoming camp. Before coming to camp he considered enrolling in a local Non-Formal School like his sister. Yet when he went, he was discouraged by how young the children were and felt that he was too old to join the class. When he saw the bus loading up to take children from his village to the residential camp at Kaya this month he saw that there were older children and thus felt at ease about attending.
Githmal likes his teachers, the camp and the atmosphere at the residential learning camp. He is enjoying both Hindi and Math subjects. He does not want to return to work in the cotton fields and is hoping to enroll in an NFE and tend to the field at home. He would like to continue his studies even after marriage and would like to marry an educated girl. Yet he is not sure whether that will ever happen. When asked about what he would like to become, Githmal responds with a stark wariness beyond his years “I don’t want to dream big. I will take things as they come.”
Inspirational stories, like Githmal’s, are not in short supply at Seva Mandir. Each day teachers and other stakeholders of the education provided at Shiksha Kendras/NFEs see the benefits of Seva Mandir’s work in the eyes and heart of the children.
Thanks once again!
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