June 4th, 2010, Mumbai, India
With the start of the school year only a few days away, DWP has been busy meeting with parents who require sponsorship to be able to send their child or children to school. Every case is different, every school requirement is different. There is plenty of frustration trying to enroll children in the right school for their needs be it Marathi medium, Hindi medium or English medium. The location of the school is also an issue when dealing with the cost of rickshaws to get kids to school. Municipality schools are larger and generally cost less. There are also government-aided schools where the fees are subsidized, and there are small, private schools run by NGO’s and Trusts. Schools with religious affiliations are also in the mix.
The process of picking a school is usually based on which language a child speaks or is already learning in. We ask the parents for their input and discuss their financial situation and make a decision together. The families responsibility is to have all the children’s school records in order and any other paperwork the school will require. The filing system most parent’s use are long, dirty, worn-out plastic bags that hold al their important papers from medical records to school records. With the papers in order, we all go to the school and meet the principal and view the school. DWP handles all the financial requirements.
The schools are not shiny, but in different states of disrepair. The principal’s office’s are grimy, with worn, propped up furniture, stacks of paper piled high on every surface and usually a few dusty computers sitting on a dirty table. Classrooms are barren and stacked with shared seating. If there is a schoolyard, it is full of construction debris, broken concrete, garbage, and crows. A large, open place to play is thrilling, despite the conditions.
Sneha is a beautiful, smart little girl of about 5 years old. She loves frilly dresses, barrettes, and combing her hair with coconut oil. She has an older sister and they play up and down the pipeline together. Sneha’s mother, Reeta, is serene and beautiful and is a great mother to her two children as well as the sole provider for her family. She works outside the slum as a public toilet cleaner for a meagre salary. Sneha’s father, Kailas has AIDS and also has a drinking problem. He doesn’t have a job and most of his days are spent sleeping in their 5 by 8 foot home. The grandmother, who is the mother of Sneha’s father, also has AIDS.
The day of Sneha’s enrollment, the family came to the Balwadi to meet us to go to the school. We walked out of the slum onto the main road to flag down a rickshaw that would take us about five minutes into Saki Naka to Sneha’s new school. There was a lot of excitement. The school is small, two stories and holds maybe 100 children. The children are taught in English. Sneha was anxious to play with the dusty computers and tried sitting in a desk, meant to hold at least 5 children. The principal is a warm, generous, older man who runs the school with his two sons. We were all pleased when the paperwork was complete, which in India, can take four times longer than it should.
As we were leaving and getting into two different rickshaws for the ride back to the slum, Reeta and Kailas were generous with their thank you’s. Kailas cried when he shook our hands. Indians have a lovely habit of cupping your hands and then touching their own hearts when they are sincere.
This is a family deserving of support and DWP is grateful that a donor has donated the funds. The gracious donor from Whitecourt, Alberta, has sponsored Sneha’s entire fees for the upcoming school year.
- 5350 INR or $125 CAD ( 1 year school fees)
Kane and Cindy Ryanaids, donate, education, hiv, India, Mumbai, slum, sponsorship, travel, volunteer