On Friday, we spent over 6 hours at Don Bosco to place these two brothers (Intia, 9 yrs. and Chotu, 5 yrs.) in boarding school. The day began with going to a hospice home to pick up the father only to find out he ran away from the hospice. Later, the father returned and we then took the children to the Don Bosco facility. Often times, the parents are bad and not very well behaved, but the children should not have to pay the price. The father is a bicycle rickshaw driver, married twice, 3 children from each marriages, both wives left him because he drinks and beat them up, and does not provide for the family and forced his children to beg on the streets. The only reason we were able to help the boys was the father contracted malaria and got so sick he had to seek help. We placed the father in hospice care and his sons in temporary shelter at an orphanage. After the father got better, we processed the children's papers with child welfare to place them in boarding school. Hopefully, these two children will not take after their father's behavior and maybe will have a chance to have something better.
In the slum today, I spoke with the families and the kids about making a commitment to their education. I also found out we have six children who are attending day school at Saint George out of the twelve we registered. The six kids are Rupa, Sneha, Shahin, Rizwane, Nihkat, and Haider Abbas. The younger kids attend school in the morning while the older kids attend school in the afternoon.
I spoke with the school principle and he will be helping me keep track of the kids so that will be helpful. He is also quite willing to accept more applications from us when registration opens for next school year. The children appeared very happy to attend school and I hope they will learn as much as they can. Our goal is just to make sure they go to school everyday and not skip classes.
It was so adorable to see the children in their school uniforms. Since they live in the streets, they quickly take their clean school uniform off when the get home and put on their dirty clothes. I am quite sure the children are not doing their homework when they are at home, but they seem to carry heavy book bags, so hopefully, they are learning. The problem is the children don't really have a suitable place in the streets to do their homework. But there was evidence some learning has occurred because little Rupa Paswan was speaking a little bit of English to me when she translated her mother's request that I stay to have some food with them.
Upon arriving in Kolkata at 16:30, I quickly went to check on one of the children we are helping. Puja is a young girl in class 12 and finishing up her primary schooling. If she does well on her upcoming examinations, it can mean university. Puja was excited to tell me that she was awarded first distinction for class 11. That is equivalent to being on the "A" Honor Roll for high school students. So that is the good news.
The bad news is I was told that one of our children has a mental illness and cannot be cared for. I have no idea what that means, but it will be interesting to learn what has happened to the child. The child is Rupa and I don't have a good feeling about what has happened to her. She is a lovely girl and it will be very sad if she is no longer at Don Bosco. I was told her family has abandoned her so if she is not in Don Bosco, then she is somewhere in the streets. I am hoping that this will not be the case for Rupa.
and Cassie Fox-P