Eleven-year-old Barkha, a student of class 5, loves her books. Even when school is closed, she is busy filling the pages of the notebook with her name.
“I know I need to study hard to become a doctor,” she says.
Belonging to the DNT (denotified and nomadic tribes), Barkha’s family has no permanent residence.
Her parents, Satish and Batuli, are never sure when they might have to leave their current dwelling, a shanty at the Rangpuri Pahari near Vasant Kunj. Satish cleans ears and sells clay toys to earn a living.
Barkha’s family is one of the 60 families that migrated to the capital from Rajasthan more than a decade ago and settled at the pahari.
Barkha was attending an MCD school two years back, when her family had to return to their native place Sikar in Rajasthan to marry off their elder daughter.
Barkha had to go back with them, leaving her school in the middle of the session. She was in Class 3 then.
Meanwhile, Barkha’s other sister also got married and came to Rangpuri Pahari with her husband.
Last December, when Barkha came to Delhi to visit her sister, Bal Vikas Dhara (BVD), a CRY project that works in 12 slums across the city and is supported by HT found her.
Barkha started going to the centre and in April, when her family returned to Rangpuri Pahari, a social worker talked to them about her enrollment in a school.
But it wasn’t easy. In April, a teacher humiliated her and asked her to give up on the idea of studying in a school.
“He called her ‘bhains (buffalo) and said it was pointless teaching her,” says Mamraj, a community coordinator A scared Barkha refused to go back to school till a volunteer apprised the principal of the incident and was assured that such a thing would never happen again.
Today, Barkha’s elder brother Akshay, 16, regrets not going to school and has turned to BVD for help."We are looking into what can be done for him. He is out of the RTE age group (children aged 14 and below) so we have to work hard to find something for him" says Mamraj.