When you're ten years old. how do you make sense of a life of poverty, and yet be filled with optimism and confidence for the future. This is what hope looks like for Vishal. Not only is he believing in his personal success, but he is looking beyond to how he can make a difference to the lives of other children like him and to bring about long term change in his village. I'm so proud of him!
I am Vishal and I am 10 years old. I live in Parmawala Village in the Indian jungle. I’m in Grade 3 at school. My favourite thing is football but mostly we do not have a ball to play with because the big boys steal it. I go to the Project Help Education Centre where there are 48 kids of all ages in my class. Some of us go to the government school during the day but I don’t go all the time, especially during the monsoon rains and when it’s too hot. My feet get blisters which do not go away quickly, so I do not like walking. Sometimes after I walk the long distance even my teacher is mostly not there, so instead I would rather be playing with my friends all day long.
At first I didn’t want to go to Project Help but my mother made me go. I wanted to be with my friends instead, where we would hang and not do much and just make a football, or tease the cattle and get into trouble. But now I realise that when I study hard I can hope to see my dreams come true.
As I told you I am from Parmawala Village which is a very poor place in the jungles. Here most people do not know about us except for Project Help. I live in a very small hut with my mother, my father, my brother and sister. They all work hard to keep us surviving every day. My mother stays inside the house and she is ill most of the time. When she has energy she will cook and do hard work housekeeping too. My sister and brother are labourers in other people’s fields, maybe they will not even earn 100 rupees ($2AUS) a day. My father is also a labourer in the fields and he has short luck in his life. Now he mostly spends all the money by getting drunk and he quarrels at the end of the day. I stay away from him when he is like this but it is difficult when I am trying to get to sleep.
So my mother insisted I go to the Project Help Centre where my teacher is Rakhi. I think she is kind and beautiful and I love her. At first I was naughty and cheeky but Rakhi was patient and keeped on smiling. She did not hit me with the stick like the teacher at the government school. Instead Rakhi asked me to help her to clean and tidy the class before and after our lessons along with some of the other children. I feel very proud and important for Rakhi to give me this responsibility so I want to work hard for her in my studies too.
Because of my hard work I am learning more things and achieving higher grades. My mother is very proud of me and she says I am changing to be a happy and more responsible boy. I want to achieve my dream for her which is to become a police officer. I want to help make our village known and not forgotten by the world. I will also keep cleaning my village to make all people proud of our location. If I concentrate in my studies I can be successful in the future too, and make the government help kids like me, so they can achieve their dreams too. I hope for this day to come with pride and confidence in myself. My mother and I thank Rakhi and Project Help for making this happen in my life.
The power and life long impact of a child's education
The mission of Project help India is to bring love, hope, dignity and purpose to the poor in India. In Vishal’s story see how his education, which comes packaged with love, care, nurture, a sense of belonging and being valued by his teacher and others, is changing his life.
Thank you to the many supporters of www.projecthelpindia.co for your significant part in making this possible for Vishal and the many other children who attend one of our thirteen Project Help India education centres. How your donation dollar is spent;
- $35 is the approximate cost of tuition and meals for a child per month
- $45 is the approximate cost of tuition and meals for a child at our Kotdwara Disability Centre per month
- $100 is the cost of a teacher's salary per month
I sincerely appreciate your interest, compassion, generosity and the encouragement that this brings.
As Desmond Tutu famously stated;
"Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness."
There are a lot of kids in the village who aimlessly hang around every day, and do not attend a school. They are highly at risk in so many ways. We are trying to get them to school, and much of our work is centred on changing parent's mindsets about the value of education vs having their kids involved in labour and other forms of exploitation eg married in their early teens or trafficked. It is not uncommon to hear about kids being sold to traffickers for $50US never to be seen again. If these kids do go to a government school, the quality of teaching is generally very poor, not to mention they must walk between 5 to 8km each way to get there. It breaks my heart!