All of 9, bright-eyed Vijay had never held a pencil or walked into a school. His young hands scoured the garbage for sellable trash or were stretched out to beg for money or food. His parents also begged for a living, but their earnings were barely enough for his father's drinking. The family of five, including his siblings survived with the money and food Vijay got from begging. Most days, the younger kids went along with him to beg. For Vijay, this was life! School, writing, reading and playing was a faraway dream. Until one day, he was persuaded by Kishore Anna to come to Subhiksha school. A new world opened up for Vijay - a few children were sitting in a circle, some were playing with blocks, others were writing or drawing. Their laughing faces brought a smile to Vijay's lips. He sat down hesitantly in the circle and picked up a chalk and slate. Later, he had lunch with his new friends and played with them. Too soon, it was evening and time to go back home and then begging. Initially, it was difficult for Subhiksha staff to convince his parents to send him to school. They were worried about the loss of income. The fact that they were not required to pay for his education and the free mid-day meal provided by the school convinced them. Over time, they realised that schooling would indeed provide their children a better future. After nine months, Vijay has started reading and writing words and small sentences which he shows off proudly to everyone. And he brings along his younger brother and sister too!
A new start!
Chandra (means moon) is a bright and intelligent girl. Her cheerful face never lets on the hardships she has gone through in her life. Chandra barely remembers her mother as she passed away when she was very small. Chandra was only nine years old when her father succumbed to his prolonged illness. As far as she could remember, her father was always ill and coughed incessantly. Chandra was introduced to a life of beggary very early in her life. Her older brother carried her around when he went for begging. When she was old enough to walk around, she started begging on her own - mostly for food near bakeries and restaurants. She was very scared when we asked her to come to Subhiksha. She feared her brother would beat her up if she went home without food or money. The danger of her being trafficked was also very real. We spoke to her brother several times and counselled her about the benefits of schooling. We finally persuaded her to come but she left shortly thereafter. After repeated attempts, she is now regular to school. In the past six months she has learnt to read and write words and readily recites rhymes whenever asked. And she is really attached to her new school bag, thanks to a generous gesture by a donor.