Today I want to introduce you to one of those boys who have been with us, at our school, starting from his very first school year. His name is Praveen and he is 12 years old.
Praveen lives close to many of his classmates, in a poor area of Vrindavan. He lives alone with his mother – his sister is studying for a bachelor of art degree in the village of Praveen’s grandparents and his father expired four years ago.
We asked Praveen’s mother for the cause of his death but the only answer that we got was ‘He was ill and then died’. What exactly that illness was, nobody knows. He had not gone to a proper doctor. The family thought he would get better eventually. That it would cost too much to go to a hospital. That it would ruin the family’s life due to financial problems.
One might say, not going to the doctor ruined their life, too, but you can never know now what he had really fallen sick with. Now, the mother is on her own. At least, these two rooms belong to them, so she doesn’t have to worry about paying rent. Her parents pay the college fees for her daughter who is living with them in order to support her.
While Praveen’s father was a labourer working at construction sites, Praveen’s mother goes to work on the fields, helping with the harvest. Obviously that is not a work for the whole year, so whenever she doesn’t get work on the field, she goes to a factory that processes different food. There she does the hard work of manually grinding spices in a mortar. Ten to twelve Rupees per kilo is what she gets for that. On an average, she says, she earns about 15 US-Dollar a month.
This means that it is mostly only bread and salt to eat at home. Another reason why she is happy that Praveen can learn at our school: he daily gets a warm lunch! One thing less to worry about.
Praveen is happy, too. He has lots of friends at school with whom he has been for years and he is doing quite well in school, too.