Yesterday we took a little walk out of the Ashram to visit a boy who lives really close-by: Deepu. Deepu is eleven years old and has been at our school since the very first day it opened in 2007! In that time we had a ‘nursery’ class with very small children – and now Deepu is in the 4th class and not such a small child anymore at all!
We ducked through the hole in the wall which is the entrance to the plot on which Deepu and his family live. It is not much more than that: a plot with one room, made of bricks with a cover of plastic sheets and bags in front of it, providing another makeshift room, or at least some shade for the area to cook in.
Deepu’s father tells that they moved there about eight months ago. For eight years before that, they had been living in a house that belonged to his employer. There, he was earning nearly 50 US-Dollar per month. Half of that monthly salary however, he didn’t take. His employer, a religious man who calls himself a saint, told him that he would save the money for him and one day buy a plot for him when it was enough.
That’s how Deepu’s family, two parents, three daughters and three sons, earned less than 25 US-Dollar per month for this whole time, supporting themselves further with sales from a small shop and sewing. Until the day came when suddenly, this ‘saint’ was angry with Deepu’s father. He claims there must have been someone talking bad lies about him, as he never did anything wrong. The result: he lost his job, they had to leave the house and they never saw any of the money which they thought they had been saving! Going to the police? Unimaginable for them, poor people, standing against a wealthy man with many supporters. No, nothing would come out of this.
That’s how they now live there, trying to get by. Their little shop, really nothing more than a box, doesn’t run well at the location where they are now. Deepu’s father bought a bicycle transport rickshaw from the little money they had. He used it – a bicycle with loading space – to transport cement, sand, bricks and other goods from one place to another. One day, he left it standing outside overnight. A big mistake: it was stolen.
Now he rents one to be able to earn the money they need to survive. About 16 US-Dollar only for rent, then food, clothes and more.
Two of Deepu’s sisters are already married. His eldest brother and the third sister live with his grandparents and go to school there, in the village. His second brother Ganesh had once been to our school. Three years ago he changed to a state school. Why? Because there, he was admitted three classes higher. Now however the family is regretting this decision – he is not learning properly there!
Deepu however, who has always enjoyed going to our school, never had the thought to leave. He is one of the best of his class and always very helpful, ready to give his notes to his classmates to help them out.