Today I want to introduce you to two sisters: Renu and Hemlata. They are from a quite big family – they have another four sisters and one brother. Accordingly, the income of their father is not really enough to feed them all, send them to good schools and marry the girls into good families. Everything costs – and they never have enough money!
As we see so often with the families of our school children, these parents had four girls before finally having a boy and even after that, they had two more girls in hope for another boy! This obviously is a strain on the family budget. The father works in a factory for approximately 100 US-Dollar per month.
For this money, he is paying the school fees for two of his daughters as well as his son. The eldest two daughters are already married. One of them was home when we visited. She looked no more than 17 years old to us, although the father told she was eighteen. She had her one year old son on her lap.
The big family lives in a quite small home with two rooms downstairs and a kitchen on the roof. There is a toilet however and some more open space on the roof. This open space has one wall – the start of another room, built over a year ago, waiting for the family to have some spare money by some twist of fate. At the moment however, the father does not see himself building that room anytime soon: he keeps on taking money in advance from his employers because his salary is often not enough to pay for all their expenses.
The expenses for teaching the elder children has become so much that they are now considering taking their son out of the school he is learning in and admitting him to our school, together with his sisters. He will go to a lower class than he is now, as he doesn’t know English that well – but it would be for free, just as it is for the two girls!
Hemlata, 10, and Renu, 8, are the two youngest family members living in the home. They are, just like the rest of the siblings, jolly and seem happy. Hemlata has a small birth defect: one of her eyelids seems always swollen, closing the eye a little bit. She sees perfectly fine however. Above that, she has a big scar: when she was one-and-a-half years old, she was sitting on the roof – at the border – and a monkey ran towards her. Whether it was she, who fell down because she was surprised, or the monkey really pushing her down, will remain a mystery unsolved.
Both girls are good at school, getting medium to good marks and showing interest in what the teachers tell them. Renu takes a bit longer to understand everything but once she does, she keeps it well in mind!