Monthly Archives: November 2012

Boys can be moms too!!

Vikram and Sanjay will beg from morning to night with their little brothers in their arms.It is a part of their training to evoke pity and elicit more alms.No matter how many p.j.’s u give them the babies will be unclad waist down since the boys do not how to deal with the  frequent wetting .The babies too know how to immediately stretch out their little hands and say “dey dey ” meaning give. Sanjay will manage writing with one hand while Vicky ( named here by all of us and the children’s choice) sleeps in his lap.

An important new difference- a new Pooja returns to the open school

The open school is very different in one  precious way—some children who started their journey into retrieving their childhood– away from violence ,abuse exploitation towards safety,security,health,education , skills ,dignity and affection accompany us as  peer educators. Here is Pooja then and now–she beams at the new children bursting to tell her story which began here

The old days

The open school at Traffic Lights Sector 8 –seasonal revival

This is the same spot from where Vatsal Chaya began its journey with 12 children who tapped on paasing car windows and begged for money–an ubiquitous sight in all our towns and cities. Mnay of those are still with us ,safely in school and crafting a better life,some have gone back,and now new ones have appeared .Every year a couple of months before Diwali child begging is renewed  vigor and with fresh influx from poorer regions. the open classroom is revived whenever there are street children who need a transitional support in the form of non formal teaching ,creating a classroom experience in their familiar  environs.

 

after the basic numeracy lessons ,simple home cooked food follows ,it is an important part of the daily activity,vital nutrition and quality bonding time.Conversation reveals the family problems of each and the personality of each child emerges slowly.They drop the garb of practised child beggars only after a while.What helps us is that a few of them have known the old class or heard about it .

a new confidence and a special milestone

Sahibdeen Ansari  at age 12 was found in one of our monthly surveys in 2009 –a typical out of school child but with some exceptional qualites. He was gentle,courteous and diligent. Every 3 months the father in his quest for seasonal farm work would take him with him and make him work too. His schooling suffered and he remained ahere he was despite our best efforts and his sincere effort.In March 2011 when Vatsal Chaya began supporting some children at rsik completely with boarding and lodging etc,the way our presented itself.His father was counseled to leave him with us whenever he he travelled. At that time ,one group of children victims of child beggary  were living in my the staff quarters of my residence with one well meaning relative as a guardian till I could help them with rent and a suitable house.. They were all girls however and Sahibdeen presented a new question I was determined to answer. I also could not allay his father’s concerns about how he would practise his religous regimen everyday. The answer came in a perfect way! Abdul Hafiz an elderly Zardozi out of work kaarigar had been helped by Vatsal Chaya for a while to treat his ailing wife.He came to offer to teach our older children his craft but I requested him to house Sahibdeen too– for a small sum. And that is how things moved ahead. There was nothing this child would not do ,he was equally good in studies,in art,craft,helping everyone and quietly accomplished  himself  at every step.  In 2012 April we felt he was ready for the transition to the mainstream and he was put into Class 6 where most children are younger to him but he is holding steady till date .Extra support is always there after school and he is now in the house with all the other children  with one of the mothers as guardian. Now we were ready to accede to one of his father’s demands – that Sahibdeen must earn too! He is an apprentice trainee  with the help of a philanthropic friend and earns a small stipend every month for 2 hours of training after school.

RamSahay was a similar story but he was a domestic servant in the school neigborhood as was his Uncle/Chacha and elder brother in other areas in the city. His uncle requested we provide similar support so that someone in their family would break free. Ramsahay too is now in class 6 and recieves training like Sahibdeen. His elder brother is 18  and in Class 12 and supports himself  with odd jobs.

The special milestone is the first visit to a bank ,their own bank account .Filling out the forms and deposting the saved stipend of 4 months was an exciting new empowering experience.

Diwali celebrations

Diwali celebrations were in broad daylight but fun !! A sweater for each Vatsal Chaya child and  a sweet touch –with  our Vatsal Chaya logo too . Many many thanks to Ute Mayr and Dheeraj for this warm wonderful gift.

Some songs and dances and some goodies to eat.

The health initiative continues and becomes a monthly affair

The medicines were all very kindly donated by SSW and Fortis Hospital Mohali contributed a full team comprising a doctor ,nurse and 2 technicians.Blood samples and haemoglobin tests were done for 120 children and a total of 218 children were examined and provided full medication.Here is the Press note I sent:

The students and their siblings as well as mothers of over 202 children in the care of The Vatsal Chaya Trust were given health, hygiene and medical assistance in a health camp organized by The Trustin the Colony No 4 which is the second largest slum area in the U.T.. This is the fourth such camp in 2012 and is part of the hub and spoke approach followed by The Vatsal Chaya Trust. The hub is the literacy and vocational program   for the marginalized urban deprived child and the spokes are related interventions which address the specific deficits which block school access and retention of such children. Tackling poor health ,burden of sibling care and counseling of mothers are part of the “spokes” .

Says Sangita Vardhan Chairperson “For over 65 years universal primary education has been an eluding us because the context of the deprived child is not addressed and factors which support school access, school readiness, retention and effective integration into the mainstream are seldom dealt with in tandem leading to poor outcomes. Poor health and malnutrition cause impaired cognitive ability as well as poor attendance and the first generation learner needs all the help he can get.

In addition to this building community support and bringing likeminded synergistic collaboration is a strong aspect of our work as it expands the reach and success of any social justice intervention. Fortis hospital Mohali has provided a team of doctors ,nurses and technicians as well as free blood test for all children present and all medication and refreshment has been kindly provided by SSW.

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2 more vocational courses completed and Saubhagini our women’s section surges on .50 women from Below Poverty Line families with yellow cards assigned by the government have successfully stepped out of their homes and acquired new skills and a measure of confidence.

women gather to celebrate the completion of 360 hours of training and proudly accept their certificates jointly given by the Urban Poverty Alleviation Cell and Vatsal Chaya