It is Friday again and my turn to introduce you to one of our students. Today it is Hema, 12 years old, going to the 2nd class of our school.
Hema’s house is made out of mud, supported by bamboo sticks and with a floor made of a mixture of sand and cow dung. It is an old, traditional way of making homes which is used by poor people who don’t have the money to buy bricks and cement for a proper wall. Obviously, the disadvantage of this house is clear in monsoon time: too much rain soaks the walls and makes them unstable.
The advantage is that in summer it doesn’t get as hot as a brick house, so that families like Hema’s, who cannot afford fans, coolers or air conditioning, survive the hot summers.
The home and the whole land that it is on, belongs to seven brothers and their families who have been in Vrindavan for the past 22 years. They all started out as labourers but now two brothers, among them Hema’s father, started something new: they invested in two small wagons and a big box as well as a big pan which they now everyday push until the main road to sell Pani Puri, Tikki and more – snacks for people who walk by!
Hema’s elder brother, 18 years, has joined the business. They prepare 2000 pieces of Pani Puri every day. Hema helps her mother prepare the spicy sauce into which the hollow bowls are dipped. There is a bigger margin to earn money in this business than in doing labour. They hope to be earning about 100 US-Dollar in a month soon but now, as they are new to the business, they don’t get nearly as much.
Until they will be established, their buffalo cow provides them milk which they sell – and it is enough income to make ends meet.
Hema has been at our school for the past three years and although she is not very fast in learning and not the best student of her class, the teachers would not want to miss her in class. She is happy, has lots of friends and always makes others laugh. We love seeing her progress in school and are looking forward to teach her many more years!