Off The Streets, Into Classrooms
“Getting children off the streets, and into classrooms was always close to my heart. It is a mission I still continue today.”
Mrs. Padma (name changed) is different from most women in the community which she lived in.
She was a college graduate, had been a teacher all her life and wanted to support her family by starting a school. But it wasn’t easy. She was discouraged from doing so by people in her family and community. In a particular neighborhood of Bengaluru, she noticed the extreme poverty that families experienced.
Nearly after one year of struggle to find the right premises she opened her school with six students in one small room in Bengaluru. Soon, her student strength grew to 22. One of her primary challenges was getting access to finance to rent or purchase a building to accommodate the school.
In addition to finding a solution to this financial issue, another challenge was the internal conflict she experienced at the number of neighborhood children on the streets or working in shops, garages and bakeries. In a low-income neighborhood such as this one, it was preferred to send children to work and earn extra money rather than attend school.
Partnership with Varthana
Opening a school was just the first step to addressing this problem; convincing parents to enrol their children was another. It took patience and time to speak to parents in the neighborhood and convince them that an education is the best option to secure a good future for their children. Her partnership with Varthana allowed her to continue construction on an adjacent building where she was preparing to hold high school classes for the older children.
This life-changing school now has three branches with over 500 students combined. Most of the enrolled students were formerly on the streets or working in small establishments. They now wear uniforms, sit in classes to learn and take part in creative activities in nursery, primary or high school – ready to achieve their dreams.