“I am Varsha. I’m studying in 8th standard. In my home, I have four younger brothers, my father collects rubbish for a living and in total we’re seven family members. Since I am the elder one in the house, the responsibilities of the house are on my shoulders. Cleaning the utensils, sweeping the house, cooking meals, washing clothes, taking care of my younger brothers, etc are my responsibilities. Along with these, I also have to study.
Since we don’t have much money, we don’t have gas at home. We can’t get kerosene so I have to cook on a ‘chul’ (earthen stove with open fire used for cooking). My father buys rice and dal ingredients every day. My mother is always ill. She is anemic and also my younger brother is very small, so she breastfeeds him, so become weaker. This is why I do the housework.
I have to finish my responsibilities and then I attend school classes. I like the classes where they also show stories. I like be with my friends and not be too long in my house. In the house, I am very busy but in class, I can chat with my friends and we have jokes and fun. I enjoy class with fewer girls in the group, which has happened since the COVID-19 situation.
I have ambitions of becoming a teacher, to earn money and to help my family. However, my father is thinking of my marriage. He has decided on my marriage to his friend’s son. I am aware of the problems of child marriages and in the past I participated in rally by the project against child marriage, so I know this is against law. I get strength from my girls’ group of the project to fight at home for my right to education.
I want to stop my marriage. My grandmother came to us to marry me off. She said to me that in the pandemic we don’t need as much money for the wedding so this is a good opportunity for me to get married. I discussed my wish with my parents to continue my education and explained I’m not willing to marry, stating that it is against the law. They are convinced. I am especially thankful to the ‘tai’ (elder sister) from the project for helping my friends and me to solve this situation.
I am feeling relaxed now and I can concentrate on my study.
“We, ourselves, should speak up if anyone is trying to stop our education, even if it’s our own family.”
Your support helps Varsha and her friends to continue their education and to prevent child marriage. Thank you.
With the global pandemic, circumstances in the slums of Pune continue to be harsh. Yet with assistance from your support, 90 girls aged 15-16 are benefitting from online learning through the use of mobile phones. Students with WiFi access in their slums are being supplied with phones. We are supporting our partners to ensure that these young people are not further disadvantaged at this time.
Most students required support in learning how to use these phones, but after initial socially-distanced tutorials, they are able to access their regular lessons, until their schools are able to re-open. While this doesn't address the challenges of the mixing their home and study environment, it ensures that students' learning can continue.
Your donations help ensure that no child is left behind. Thank you for your support.
During the coronavirus pandemic and associated measures, such as lockdown and social distancing, life in heavily populated, underresourced slums has been stretched to the limit. Our partners have provided masks, basic sanitation and for those who have lost their daily-wage work, food and associated parcels.
Dayita lives in a slum district in Pune and usually works as a domestic helper on a daily wage. She had some assistance in this, due to having one hand. Her work and support stopped due to lockdown, while the indeed to care for her two daughters, as a widow, continued.
For work to stop one day and to have no food the next is the reality for many families, including Dayita. She accessed government support but received a 2kg bag of rice; she was left hugely worried about the future for her family.
Dayita shares her experience of reaching out to our partners who work in the slums: “I always talk with them as they guide me in my difficult situations. I always get some path after talking to them. They said we will help you… I cannot express my feelings in words when on phone they said we will provide groceries to you.
I felt like crying. When I saw kit which includes rice, wheat ,soap, oil, sugar, masala, lentils- it’s all that my family would need in the lockdown period. I feel that even in this time, humanity is still somewhere, even today. My relatives have not inquired about me but this organisation has helped me to come out of this situation. I now have enough groceries to last me for at least two months.”
Thank you for your continued support of this project at this challenging time.
Thank you for continuing to support this vital work at such a challenging time. I'm writing to give you an update on the situation on the ground, with India's lockdown having been extended. We are in regular contact with our partners. While we remain commited to our focus of education for all, gender equality and dignified livelihoods, we are responding to the effects of the coronavirus in India with emergency relief efforts.
To support this project, last week we sent funds to provide food parcels and hygiene kits to 300 families in the slum district of Pune. We also supported the production and distribution of health awareness material and the distribution of 1000 masks.
We will continue to keep you updated as the situation and related needs change. If you would like to support the ongoing urgent relief effort across our projects please visit www.globalgiving.org/projects/karuna-coronavirus-appeal/
With warm wishes and gratitude,
Meena is growing up in a difficult slum and was growing up lacking confidence and refusing opportunities to go to school. From a family with very little literacy, Meena didn't see a way of learning without being laughed at by other girls. Fortunately, this project reached out to Meena and things have changed.
It's our privilege to share Meena's story of change with you:
"In our classes, we are told about our rights. Many different activities increased my confidence. I've started talking, standing in front of the girls. My fears have disappeared. I've started understanding how to be a leader. I learned how to resist bad things. I learned good things. I learned that girls also have rights as boys do. Now, I can even talk about my rights at my home.
My studies are progressing. If there are any girls in the area whose education is stopped, then I will try to tell community organiser and she can get help to complete her education. I understand how to protect myself now. When a boy in the school was doing eve teasing (sexual harrassment), I immediately told the teacher and informed home of the incident too. Fear did not remain in my mind. With confidence in me now I can speak without fear.
I want to be an IPS (Indian Polie Service) Officer in the future. I want to be in the same locality and make changes. I want to emphasize the importance of education to all. After learning in class I told my mom that when I will get married and have my own family, at that time I will not discriminate boy and girl and I will give equal rights to both. I also fight for my rights at home and told my mother whatever you give to my brother I also want that. Since then, my mom gives us both things equally.
This change in me, this confidence, getting the to this stage, it is all due to attending classes here. I thank this project very much."
With your support with can continue to support Meena and her peers to get an equal education and to take their place in society with pride. Thank you for your role in this journey!
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