At Charity World we have set ourselves an ambitious goal. To adopt 100 schools across India and other areas of deprivation in the world. We believe that education is the path to climbing out of poverty, and creating a happier, healthier and fairer society.
I sit here in the centre of the school grounds, on a chair with the yellow dusty earth beneath me, looking at the dilapidated buildings; the barred glassless windows, the broken floors, the bare wires hanging from the ceilings where lights should be and the walls crumbling inside and out. Flies land on my leg causing me to shake it from time to time as if afflicted by momentary spasms. The
sun beats down, but it is the cold season. It is morning and 23 degrees Celsius already. Soon it will be 28. Locals consider it cold, for in the high season it can reach double what it is now.
I can’t imagine anyone being able to work in those temperatures except, perhaps for those working in the fields, they don’t have the privilege to be able to pick and choose where and when they work. Life is tough, the demands relentless. Some of those fighting daily to provide for themselves and their families will have children at this school. They will, like most parents, wish for better for their offspring. The reality for the majority of these parents is that their hope will be forlorn, for these people are the ‘untouchables’, illegal though it is to use that term. These are the people that society doesn’t touch, and these are the children who cannot themselves change their reality or indeed the reality of their children to come.
The flies keep landing on my legs and it’s getting hotter. I should have worn trousers! The heat versus the flies. Apparently, you can
only choose one as your most major irritant.
I’m interrupted as one child is brave enough to come up and ask, in English, “What is your name?” And then shyly runs off, delighted at the information obtained and eager to tell the others. Amar, who was sitting with me, calls them back. The group excitedly run towards us. Amar talks to the children in Hindi which I don’t speak, but I can work out that he is asking them what they want to be when they grow up. Many say they want to be a doctor, some want to be police, a number want to be teachers. No one says ‘working in the fields picking crops……’
In this remote village I actually have 4G phone connectivity. And here, in this one example, we see the enigma that is India. A modern and sophisticated phone infrastructure for people, some of whom don’t even have electricity, let alone a mobile phone. Sadly, a massive proportion of Indian society is similarly impoverished whilst a significant chunk sit comfortably, some definitely too comfortably. Maybe you have to live outside of the country to really understand its reality. Amar, having grown up in this village and subsequently lived for over 20 years in the UK, is able to see, if he didn’t already, the faults within the country of his birth.
I take a moment to withdraw from the sun, leaving Amar still talking to the children. Picking up the final words about “hard work” I enter a dark classroom and my eyes adjust to the gloomy room with no lights, which contrasts so starkly with the streaming sun outside. I see a pile of textbooks, perhaps you could call it a small mountain, precariously sitting on a table. I skim through two of them. One is two years old and the other appears to be at least 5 to 10. They are well used, obviously second hand, probably read first in their clean new state by privileged children who have more rights to hope to be a doctor! I open one of the books and, three pages in, find the Indian constitution. I am ignorant of this, perhaps I shouldn’t be, but I am after all at a school, and every day we learn.
The constitution was adopted in 1949 following India’s independence from Britain. I let out a small ironic laugh in reading it for the first time. The main principles are ‘Justice’, ‘Liberty’, ‘Equality’ and ‘Fraternity’. This is not the India I see. For all its economic development, space programme, statues, appearance on the world stage and proud posturing, it is extremely hard on its
people. If it wasn’t so hot, I’d call it cold! The fight to survive is so ingrained, that many don’t recognize that they can fight for others too. The caste system burns as strongly as the flames that fill the skies with lingering smog. New generations are repeatedly indoctrinated into their position in society and how they should perceive others.
So here we are, at a school, working from the bottom up. Seeing if those who dream of being doctors can one day indeed be saving lives. If we can educate and empower those here, maybe we will have pressed the start button.
Maybe they too can make an extraordinary jump like Amar, or maybe one day it won’t have to be so extraordinary. Maybe they will
give back later too. Maybe they can supersede expectations, change perceptions, start a motion, break a cycle. Maybe real change will take a hundred years but every change requires a starting point.
If we can change 1 school, 10 schools, 100 schools, then hopefully we give that first push to that first movement to snowball / mudball into real and sustained change.
Charity World’s passion for providing opportunities to children who are experiencing hardship is the drive behind everything we do. We started the Fostering Families magazine to make sure that the voices of all involved in the care sector are heard and connect sector thinking. We want children in care to access the brightest possible future by supporting all those who provide a valuable service to young people at the most difficult times in their lives.
But have you heard of some of our other projects?
Tim’s experiences come from a visit to the Ajaib School in 2018 as part of the 100 Schools Project.
At Charity World we have set ourselves an ambitious goal. To adopt 100 schools across India and other areas of deprivation in the world. We believe that education is the path to climbing out of poverty, and creating a happier, healthier and fairer society. For many children in remote villages in India, access to education is difficult. Our founder, Amar Dhull, comes from such an area and the opportunities he was given in education laid solid foundations for his path to considerable personal and professional success.
When Amar returned to his village in Rohtak he found the school lacked all the basic infrastructure that children deserve. It had little in the way of furniture and books, and had no toilets or running water. Something needed to be done and Amar decided to set up the 100 Schools Project, with Tim’s support.
Amar’s school in Rohtak was the first one to be adopted, and it created a blueprint for 99 more. In January 2016 we opened a second school, and currently support over 100 children in full-time education. As well as providing a quality education, we ensure that the schools we adopt have a good infrastructure, which includes repairing existing buildings, as well as building new classrooms, toilets, libraries, sports facilities and providing all the necessary teaching equipment. ◆
You can find more about the 100 Schools Project on our website: www.charityworld.com