Today I will introduce you to another family who has recently admitted their children in our school. The girls are called Rameshwari and Karishma and are 10 and 5 years old.
The family has three more members: the girls’ parents and their elder brother who is 16 years old and is currently learning in the 10th class of a cheap private school. Rameshwari was going to the same school until now but the parents decided to try getting a place for the girls in our school. They will now save the school fees and of course money for school uniform, books and each exam. It will help them, as they really need the money for some of the basic things in life!
The family does not own much. They had to start from zero again two years ago when the big flood in Northern India destroyed their house and field in the state Uttarakhand. They had been living in the Himalayan mountains their whole life long. While they were on a visit to relatives, they heard news that in their area, there had been a flood. They tried phoning friends and neighbours – nobody answered their phone. Their whole village had been washed away by the high water of the Ganges and nearly all of their friends had died in the flood!
Once, they returned just to see how the situation was in their old home but there was nothing to even start a new existence with! So they moved from one relative to another, from one friend or acquaintance to another, occasionally working and practically living from hand to mouth. About a year ago, they thus reached Vrindavan, a place where many people come when they are looking for work.
That’s how in the past two years, Rameshwari’s father has done a lot of different kinds of work and has finally found a place as security guard in a plastic bag factory just outside Vrindavan. He gets about 60 US-Dollars a month, a bit more if he works extra hours. His wife helps with the income, too: she knows a shopkeeper who sometimes gives her pictures of Hindu gods which she then decorates with colourful stones before she hands them back to the shopkeeper. For each picture she gets in between 3 to 5 rupees. To earn one Dollar, she would thus have to make about 15 to 20 such pictures!
In all their bad luck however, they also had a piece of good luck: they met someone who was in charge of submitting applications for free flats by the government! There were about 800 flats to be allotted and after providing their papers, they were one of the chosen families! That’s how they now live in a flat with bathroom and toilet, a small balcony and two rooms, one of which has a kitchenette. As they have very few belongings, the flat still looks empty – but it is theirs!
When we asked Rameshwari about their old home, she told us that she still remembered everything. She had friends there, too, and said she missed them sometimes. You cannot help but get sad for a little girl that has already experienced such loss!
We are quite certain however that she will find lots of new friends in our school when in July the classes start again and both Rameshwari and her sister Karishma will learn in our pre-school class!