International Day for Eradication of Poverty: Helping poor kids step into a bright future
Lucknow: Growing up in adversities can be tough for any child but 10-year-old Salma refuses to give up and is dreaming big for her future.
Like any other rag-picker, Salma started young and began sorting and recycling waste soon after she could differentiate between colours and materials at the age of three.
Salma lives with her grandmother in a thatched house of a slum in Gomti Nagar extension while her parents stay in Assam.
Every morning, the duo would leave to scavenge and bring back whatever they could sell for money.
Amidst their quest for basic amenities like food and shelter, education was a far-fetched dream for her until she found her light through a non-government organisation (NGO), Jan Pragati, which gave her an opportunity to follow her dreams through a makeshift school ‘Pragati Pathshala’.
In no time, Salma was enrolled in the school and started eating healthy and following good hygiene. Salma is now the star of her classroom.
“I did not realise that we were holding her back. She now goes to school and she will do better than us in life,” says Salma’s grandmother.
“Poverty forces children into hazardous works like rag picking. In those tender years we had safe and secure life while these children are exposed to all the evils, violence, abuse, dangers and difficulties. To help these children break out of the cycle of poverty, it is important that they receive basic education,” says executive director, Jan Pragati, Nitin E Sam.
Pragati Paathshala is working to nurture the lives of more than 120 slum children through moral, social, ethical and formal education.
Chandini lost her father when she was 12 after which her mother abandoned Chandini and her brother. The siblings were left with no hopes in their dilapidated single-room accommodation in Hazratganj.
An NGO, ‘Lali – Hope for Grace’, came to their rescue and funded their studies and living. Now in her early twenties, Chandini is making her living by working as a beautician.
“Lali gave me hope to live and pursue my dreams. I can now earn my own bread and am happy to be self-dependent,” she says.
Chairperson, ‘Lali – Hope for Grace’ Pearly Lall, says: “Education is the catalyst needed to pull families and communities out of the cycle of poverty. It is hard to convince parents of slum children to enroll their kids in formal school. It usually takes me 7-8 months of regular counseling of parents to make them understand the importance of formal education.”
The NGO is working for education and empowerment of slum children in Sadar area Lucknow.
“I have seen the transformation that education brings in slum children. It is satisfying to see children doing well in life. Helping them to be skilled and empowered is my privilege,” says Lall.
Usman Kidwai, a post-graduation student at the Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti University, Lucknow, volunteers his time to teach underprivileged children.
“The bias in education system inspired me to work for the welfare of socially and economically weaker section, because this particular section of society cannot afford quality education and end up taking odd jobs. I wanted to break the life-chain of these children and worked with an NGO which works on section 12(1c) of the Right to Education to ensure better future of children,” he adds.