I will today introduce you to a shy boy who has a lot of nonsense on his mind. His name is Mohit, he is eight years old and went to school for the first time this year. Why has he not gone before? Due to money problems.
Their home looks run-down and when we ask, we get to know that they have taken a loan a year ago to buy it. All their money goes into paying the monthly installments and again and again they have to ask their relatives to send them some money for support.
Mohit’s father is a priest, of which there are thousands in the religious city Vrindavan. The multitude of people offering their services for ceremonies and rituals means that each of them has to do effort to be the one chosen to do it. They don’t get employed but daily try to find a place where they are needed. In temples, they ask whether a bigger ceremony is going to happen where they could assist. They try to be the first ones to talk to pilgrims from out of Vrindavan who come here for having ceremonies performed. Obviously, they have no regular income, in months of religious festivals they earn more and in other months they sometimes have to find an Ashram where they can just help out with other work in exchange for some rupees.
That’s how Mohit’s elder sister, the eldest of the three siblings, goes to another charity school in Vrindavan where they don’t need to pay. It is a school with religious influence – and it is for girls only. His brother is going to a state school. This means that they don’t need to pay school fees but there are still other expenses: notebooks, utensils, uniform and more. Additionally, the standard of education is very low and children get beaten as a punishment for not bringing their homework or being naughty.
The parents didn’t have money to admit their sons, or even one of them, in a private school where they would learn more. When they finally heard of our school, they were relieved: a place where their boy would learn for free and without getting beaten! He has learned the alphabet and a little bit more from his elder brother – so he enjoys that in school he already is a bit further than his classmates.
One thing however we were surprised about when we entered Mohit’s home: next to the wooden pallet that serves the children as bed, under the window, a hole in the wall covered with newspaper, is a relatively big flat screen TV! We ask the mother how they could afford this. They couldn’t. It was the gift of a wealthy customer of her husband. A religious man for whom he had performed a ritual. He obviously thought that this poor family would need a good TV.
We believe that the kids need education so that they can have a better future!