Today I want to introduce you not to one, not to two, not to three, no, to four children of our school! They are sisters, four girls of one family and we just need to wait a few more years for their youngest sister to join our school as well: Jyoti, thirteen years old, Sandhya, twelve years old, Kajal, ten years old and Rakhi, seven years old already go to our school while their mother is taking care of one-and-a-half year old Radhika at home.
If you like, you can see this family as a quite typical example of old Indian tradition in several ways. The parents married in 1998 – when he was nineteen and she was thirteen. Their eldest girl is now thirteen, which means that she was born when her mother was only fifteen years old! The next one followed one year later.
It is common in India that parents would like to have at least one son. They still love their daughters but if they get daughters as the first and second child, you can nearly be sure that they will try once more to conceive a son. That’s what this man and his wife did. They tried five times to have a son – and all turned out to be girls. Healthy, jolly and a little bit naughty girls.
We have known this family for many years, as the girls’ father is a mason who has worked at the Ashram building as well as at the school where his daughters are now studying. It was our wish to support this poor man and his family – because whenever he gets work, the family has an income. When there is no work, no buildings to build, then there is no money for the many mouths he has to feed.
The father of this family is definitely the one who looks after the money – because he does not give even one rupee to his wife. He brings the vegetables, the rice and the spices home. He buys all clothes and when shopping needs to be done, he comes along. His wife tells us ‘My task is to cook and raise the children!’
Two years ago, this mason had saved enough money to buy a plot and build his own house. He did but it was just enough for a kitchen, the entrance room and one room in which the whole family now sleeps. The girls like playing on the roof and with the neighbour children. Jyoti already has learned how to make Indian flat bread, rice and noodles!
Every morning, the four kids get ready and come to school. We wonder whether they would be able to come to school at all if it was not for free. Would their father be able to afford educating five girls? Or would he rather save the money to be able to pay for their weddings one day?
We hope that they will study hard and learn well so that they can one day earn money for themselves, not depending on their husband’s income and able to decide, with the mindset of a modern Indian woman, how many children they want to set into this world.