Today I would like to introduce you to a girl who is among the youngest of our school: Pratigya, five years old. Pratiqya lives in one of the poorest areas of Vrindavan, where a lot of our children come from. And her family has the same problem that a lot of our school children’s families have: the father has work only for about half a month!
Pratigya’s parents have been married for seven years now. As is usual in a lot of Indian families, they live in a joint family. A few months after their wedding, Pratigya’s mother became pregnant with her – again something which occurs quite usually here.
Something else which has become more and more common nowadays happened just a year after the wedding: the joint family did not exactly split up but they separated their kitchens, which means that Pratigya’s father now had to take care of his wife and soon of his first child on his own instead of relying to the income of several male family members.
The man is a labourer, just like his father and his two brothers. He ‘works with stones’, his wife explains, which practically means that he helps installing marble and granite floors in houses. I intentionally write ‘helps’ because he is not a learned worker but a labourer. He is the one to load the stones, to carry them from one place to another, to mix cement and do other simple work for those who actually put the stone onto the floor. And as he doesn’t have any contract or employment with a company or a contractor, he daily has to search for work.
Pratigya’s mother tells that he often only finds work for half of the month, which means for the family that they regularly struggle for getting the money together for feeding and clothing their two children, Pratigya and her three-year-old brother.
At five years, it has become time for them to send Pratigya to school. But where? State schools have such a low quality level of education that it is hardly worth the time that the girl would spend there. Private schools are too expensive with fees for exams, uniforms, books and simply being allowed to learn there.
That’s how Pratigya’s mother came with her daughter on the time of admission and Pratigya was one of the 60 newly admitted children this year! At our school, she can learn completely for free and doesn’t only get education, books and pencils but even a warm lunch as well – without having to pay a single rupee for it!