Sahyog works in the slums of Ahmadabad (close to my hometown Vadodara). I found that the dedicated professionals at the NGO had completely immersed themselves in the problems faced by the chlidren in the slums. They explained to me the issues faced by the people, such as lack of public schools in the area, missing documentation for school admissions, communal riots, different language of education, other responsibilities on the girl child, severe financial constraints, single parent homes and many many more.
I got to shadow the workers through the monsoon sludge to visit the and the re-enrollment tuition classes for the hchildren who had dropped out from school. I also tagged along to visit the parents of the children to learn about their difficulties and the socioeconomic conditions that they are faced with. The staff took a pragmatic and wholistic approach to supporting the families to improve their situation and had gained their complete trust. The values promoted by Sahyog had taken root in the parents who took great pains to secure an education for their children. Yet, many times kids had to drop out of school to supplement the family income (by beading shawls or making rakhis) and earn an additional Rs 100 ($2) a day!
Inspite of this, at everywhere I saw - the kids had the most beaming smiles, keen street smarts and a hesitant optimism. Their future though fragile - is being invested in by organizations like Sahyog and CRY. It is an uphill struggle - but it is one where a little goes a long long way. All they seem to ask for - is a chance and for someone to believe in them. I hope I and the other beneficiaries of so many chances in a rising India are able to give them a chance as well.
Photographs from my visit are here.
If you would like to learn more about CRY or ways to help - please contact me or visit https://community.america.cry.org/newyork .