May 13th, 2010 Mumbai India.
With the generous help of a DWP supporter, I have been able to help another family with their child’s education for the upcoming school year.
I met Prasad Gaikwad a few weeks ago when he came to me to ask about the possibility of getting help for his daughter’s education. In my limited experience, I have only ever witnessed women approaching us for help concerning their children. I was excited to see a loving father reach out for help.
I sat with Ashley and Shalu while they asked Prasad questions about his situation and his need for help. Prasad was humble in his demeanor and answered every question we asked honestly, and I could see how much he cared for his family.
Prasad has two children. His oldest his daughter, Pranali, is nearly 5 years old and her younger brother is 3. Prasad works double shifts at a factory job in Mumbai. His wife, Nirmala stays at home to take care of the children. Although Prasad works long hours everyday, it is just enough to support his family, and leaves very little by the end of the month.
Pranali attended Janvi’s Balwadi School for the last few years and Ashley knows the family well. They are a loving family that just needs a little help, and it is my extreme pleasure that DWP is in a position to help. Two weeks after our first meeting with Prasad, we had arranged to meet him at 8:30 a.m. at the Balwadi to arrange Pranali’s sponsorship. I was amazed to see him arrive early as Indians are notoriously late. The term “Indian time” is an actual fact. In the time I have worked in India I have never had someone show up early. I am usually left sitting, cursing my punctuality. I want to believe that when I set up a time to meet, that the other person will arrive at that time, and today it happened!
After the business of sponsorship had been arranged, Prasad was excited to go to the school to enroll Pranali and quickly left to get his daughter. One of the things I love about India is how Indians present themselves. No matter what their economic situation is, they always seem to have clean, pressed, clothing hidden somewhere in their modest homes. Twenty minutes later, I could see Prasad, his wife, Nirmala carrying her young son, and Pranali holding her father’s hand, walking through the slum to meet us. Pranali was wearing a beautiful, new, orange dress and was visibly excited about going to her new school. We walked out to the main road and put Prasad and his family into a rickshaw to get to the school. Ashley and I walked, as the traffic was bad and it would give the family a few minutes to look around the school before we got there.
When we arrived at the school, the family was sitting in the school room, Pranali sitting at an empty desk, already excited. Prasad, Ashley and I met with the principal to discuss Pranali’s enrollment. This school was chosen because of the close proximity to their home as it would cut down on the cost for them to get her to school each day. Also, several other children from the area are attending this small school and we had heard good reports. The principal is a gentle and kind man and was excited to show us what the school had to offer.The school is operated by his trust,very similar to how Janvi’s new school will be operated, when the building phase is complete.
The small school room where Pranali will be taking lessons, will hold up to 50 kindergarten students, and is crammed with small wooden desks. The school’s crown jewel is a computer that is hooked up to a projector from the ceiling which allows lessons to be projected onto a whiteboard. The principal was excited to show us videos of his students during dance performances. I sat at the back of the class and watched Prasad smiling as his family watched the videos and listened to the principal. With the introductions and tour over, we made sure the family was happy, and then I met with the principal to handle the payment. Prasad enrolled their son in the same school. The reason I chose not to pay for his son’s enrollment is because there are many needy families in the area and we felt that this was all the help this young family needed. It is also important for Prasad to be the caregiver for his family as they are a strong family unit, and I don’t wish to disrupt anything by giving them everything for free.
As we left Nandchhaya Vidya Niketan school, Prasad called out to us. Ashley and I stopped, and he came running to us, his arm stretched out in thanks. He thanked Ashley in Hindi and did his best to say thank you in English to me. We shook hands and I couldn’t help but notice his eyes were watery. Prasad is very grateful for the help and it humbled me instantly.
Working with individuals in India, is my favorite thing to do, and while I enjoy offering help through large health camps or building the school, it is helping individuals that really gets under my skin. I know immediately that I have been of help, and the personal connections that are made are priceless.
Pranali’s education was sponsored by an individual donor from Victoria B.C.
With help and continued support, I will be bringing you more stories like Pranali’s over the next couple of weeks.
5350 INR or $125 CAD (one year’s tuition)
Kane Ryaneducation, India, Mumbai, slum, sponsorship, travel, volunteer