A Dollar A Day…

…After volunteering at the hospital and having my first dosa (basically a giant stuffed crepe) for lunch, we returned to the slum school to teach. The proper name for the school, which I learned today, is the Saheed Club Social Welfare Institution. In the afternoons, 60 children between the ages of 5 and 12 learn Hindi, English, and Math. Although they sit together on the floor in the same 10ft by 28ft room, they are divided into two groups. One group is what I equate to kindergarten and the other is called first standard (what we would call first grade). Twelve to fourteen year old girls sit in the corner of the same room and learn to sew fabric into garments which they can sell for a profit of Rs 40 (80 cents).

The children who go to school here are children who would otherwise not be in school at all. Many of the adults in the slum are illiterate and in some families both the mother and father work menial jobs such as sweeping or factory work. A typical daily income for a full-time working adult from this neighborhood is Rs 50 – Rs 150 ($1 – $3). Even the teachers receive a monthly salary of only Rs 4000 ($80). Many families either do not realize the importance of education or find ways for their children to help earn money for the family instead of going to school. Although common in Delhi and other large cities, street children and beggars are fortunately almost non-existent here in Faridabad.

We arrived when the children were still eating their lunch in their allocated space on the floor. Some kids were scraping the bottom of the five-gallon plastic bucket from which food is served.

The objective of this school is to catch children up to where they should be for their respective ages and stress the importance of education so that the kids can be transferred to a more formal public school. In the three years that the school has been in operation, 50 students that would have been left behind have been successfully transferred into the government school system. However, the teacher suspects that at most, only one or two in a hundred students will ever attend a university.

After school, we played catch with the kids and were invited into another slum home for chai. Then dozens of the students walked us to the edge of the slum on our way home, each vying for the chance to hold our hands. Once home, I joined the locals for evening badminton in the streets then took a wonderfully hot bucket bath.

Some more of my favorite photos from throughout the day:

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3 thoughts on “A Dollar A Day…

  1. John- I’m intrigued. I see your amazing pictures of the kids with heavy sweaters and hats on, but many of the kids are barefoot. Do the kids not wear shoes, or do they take shoes off indoors?

  2. Hi Chops! It means a lot to me to have you following. Thank you! It gets pretty cold here this time of year, especially from about 6pm to 8am. Tonight it will reach the low 40’s so the sweaters and hats definitely aren’t just for looks. The lady who comes from the slum to clean my host-family’s house didn’t even own a jacket or sweater until they bought her one this week. No buildings have heaters or insulation so even the hospitals are frigid until about noon.

    I’d say 80 percent of the kids in the slum don’t ever wear shoes. However, the other 20 percent remove their shoes (almost all of which are flip flops) at the entrances of buildings. Therefore, just about everybody will be barefoot inside. It seems unfathomable to us not to even have shoes, but it doesn’t seem to slow them down at all. Sometimes, groups of boys will even walk us home (a half-mile walk on asphalt) just to turn around and walk right back.

    Their lives are filled with so many inconveniences that the lack of shoes almost seems unimportant. Sometimes, I even forget that they aren’t wearing shoes. They take bucket showers outside with cold water when it’s 45 degrees F in the mornings. These kids are tough and rugged but also sweet and caring. It’s inspiring to watch.

    Thanks again! Happy New Year!

  3. Hey John,

    So awesome to be following your adventure! What an experience for you!

    Happy New Year, honey!

    Love,
    Tina and family

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