Today I would like to introduce you to Shailender, a boy who started at our school when he was eight years old.
Shailender, with his now nine years, is the eldest of five children. He has two younger sisters, seven and four years old, as well as two younger brothers, one of two-and-a-half years and a baby brother that was three months old when we came to visit. We had actually come by about three months before that – and had found the mother and the boy, just a few days after the birth, sleeping in their simple house. Shailender’s grandmother had been there to take care of his mother, to cook for and look after the other four children as well as to keep the room warm – as it was in the coldest time of the year.
We thus knew that they are very poor, with a family of seven living in one room together. Shailender’s father is assistant cook. It is a job which does not normally offer a regular employment. During the time of festivals or of weddings, he gets work nearly every day, earning about five US-Dollar in a day. At other times however, he can be happy if he can work at the weekends or half days and just earn at least a little bit!
The land that their house is built on belongs to Shailender’s grandfather. This means that once the land will be forwarded to the next generation, Shailender’s uncle will also claim his part of the plot. Shailender’s mother is already objecting to this, even at the thought, stressing that they had put the tin shade over the area next to the house, creating a kind of shelter. This was theirs, she meant to say.
The only field that the family had owned had been drowned by water when the river Yamuna had changed its course. That’s how all responsibility is on the shoulders of Shailender’s father now.
Obviously, school education would not normally be possible. They need the money for food and clothes and would not be able to spend it on school fees, books and pens. That is why they were happy to hear about our school and admitted Shailender there.
He has learned to read and write in the past year and we are looking forward to see him achieve much more in future!