Our partnership with Manav Sadhna takes us into the slums of Ahmedabad, in the state of Gujarat India. Slums are the product of broken down village life. The irregularity of rain, prevalence of high unemployment, the caste system, the appeal of city life, heightened social issues such as alcohol / tobacco addiction, poor diet, superstition, high-interest loans, lack of basic facilities and illiteracy forces many slum-dwellers to continue to live in the same cycle of despair and poverty. These spaces are congested, unhealthy and lack basic health and education amenities.
Within this setting, young girls generally end up becoming the most neglected members in this society, since greater attention and importance is often given to boys. By helping to raise aspirations, build relationships, promote stronger values and provide income-generation opportunities, we are helping to eradicate many of the challenges these girls face, so that they have the ability to manage and improve their life chances. The Earn and Learn program focuses on developing their life skills with an opportunity to earn, as they learn.
Meet Neeta Parmar
Neeta is sixteen years of age and one of five children. Instead of working to pick rags, Neeta was encouraged to enrol onto the Earn and Learn Program based in the heart of the slum community. Her father works as a manual laborer and her mother works equally long hours as a cleaner. Neeta loves to skip and dance to the latest music and her favourite food is “pani puri” (a popular street snack). At the community centre, Neeta has the opportunity to develop her talents through special activities, events, and creative sessions. Neeta is provided with value-based learning, a daily nutritional meal and her home environment is monitored through frequent discussions with her parents. By developing a range of craft items Neeta earns between 55 to 75 rupees per day. Neeta has been inspired by the support and opportunity she has been afforded, so much so that she has now enrolled back into school life.
Neeta’s mother says, “bouj saaru laage che, farethe mare dekaree bhanvaa jay che, ane ae pote ena pag upar ubhe thaay aej amaru sapanu che”. It’s so good to see my daughter starting to study again. She is going to achieve her dreams and is a very precious gift to us, I am a proud mother to have such an amazing daughter”. Neeta says, I am so glad to see myself back in school. Previously, the school environment was not suitable for me and rag picking seemed to be my only option. Now, being part of the Earn and Learn Project, and attending school, I am learning new things and new thoughts every day but most importantly helping to bring much needed money to support my parents.
Before enrolling on the project, I was never a dreamer. However, since attending the Earn and Learn Project, I am dreaming to do something big. I aspire to be a dancer and to this end, I will work very hard to ensure I do not disappoint all those that have helped me to realise my dream.
The real tragedy of the poor, is the tragedy of their aspirations” ~ Adam Smith