It is Friday once more, the day to introduce you to another one of our school children. As so often, also this time you will get to know not one but two of them, as they are sisters. Lakshmi, 13, and Neha, 10, have both started studying in our school in 2009, in the lower pre-school classes. Lakshmi, who thus went to school for the first time when she was nine years old, managed to cover up quickly and is now in the 4th class. Neha, her younger sister, is in 3rd class and both are very jolly girls!
When we went to visit them, they were at a neighbour’s home, playing carom board – you may call it an Indian version of billiard or pool. They saw us coming through the door and excitedly ran towards home, informing their mother and grandmother that we had come.
Their parents are from Vrindavan and moved to this area before the birth of their daughters. In that time, they built one small room. Over the course of the years they were able to save some money every month and extended the building. Now it has seven rooms, a roofed kitchen and a small toilet and shower.
Lakshmi and Neha’s father has rented a shop further up the road where he sells electronic items. In general, the business runs quite well because everyone needs fans and coolers to have some protection from the heat in summer or heaters in winter. Whenever business is low however, they give out one of the rooms of their home for rent to support the family budget.
They are not well-off but the father’s shop has been there for long enough to count as established in the neighbourhood. They manage their lives without bigger problems – but they may not be able to pay the school fees of a normal school. They come to our school, they learn and eat here and the parents are happy that they don’t have a financial burden. If they needed to pay for books, school uniforms and stationery, they would not be able to afford other clothing, the occasional pocket money and other small amenities.
Not only their parents are happy that the girls can go to school! The sisters have lots of friends in school and although they are not the best in class, they enjoy learning as well. Neha often needs some extra help of the teachers after class to understand some difficult points but that is exactly what we are there for: to help these children get an education that can brighten their future.