In our school the final exams of this school year have started and while the children are very busy with learning, we still make visits to many homes, so that I can introduce more children to you. This time it is the turn of Vaishaki and Pallavi.
Vaishaki is twelve years old and was born in Vrindavan, in the year when her mother and father moved here from Bengal. Two years later, her younger sister Pallavi was born. The couple did not have an easy start in Vrindavan. Like so many others, they had come from a very poor area in West Bengal and were searching for work, money, something to build their future on. Not having learnt anything, they went where so many people from that area of India come: to religious Vrindavan.
It was not as easy as they thought and that’s how they are still today struggling. Both parents go to different temples to do kirtan, religious songs of worship. Together they make about 50 US-Dollar in a month. From this money they now rent one room in the house of a woman who is also from Bengal.
It is a home completely at the border of Vrindavan, close to the bank of the Yamuna. Every year during monsoon time, the water rises until their doorstep and makes it impossible to leave home. Sometimes, the water enters the home as well. The home has a nice small garden, a separate small toilet house and a hand pump for water. You can imagine what kind of water comes out of this pump, so close to a polluted river – they drink it because they have nothing else.
As their home is so far off the normal roads, the girls have to walk quite a way until the meeting point where our school bus picks them up. It is not easy to walk through the sand around their home but they do it every day for school and then three times a week again to go take dance classes which a charitable woman offers for free.
Vaishaki has a jolly nature and talks a lot, especially when she is with her girlfriends. That has brought her into a few little quarrels with the boys of her class and other girls – but nothing that a calm talk with both parties could not solve.
Pallavi is quite different. She is calmer, rather quiet and observes while her sister does the talking.
Both girls are not very good at school and the teachers have put them in a class with extra attention for their needs – so that they will learn better and can, in future, help their parents through their education.