Thursday, March 22, 2012


Sometimes, despite our best efforts, children do not stay in school.  10-year old Sheela is one such child. AIC has enrolled her in school multiple times in the past 5 years, but she has never stayed in school for more than a few months.  She comes by the Education Outreach Centre most days to drop off her younger siblings, as she is the oldest of five children.  Although her parents have been pressured into educating their younger children, Sheela is the oldest daughter, the one whose life is sacrificed so that she can watch her siblings, do all of the housework (cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, fetching water, etc) and go out to beg on the streets to feed the family.  Many Waghri families are starting to show a real interest in education for their children, but Sheela’s parents have been among the most challenging to convince. As a result, amid her parents’ alcoholism, frequent domestic disputes (after which Sheela’s mother leaves the family for weeks at a time), refusal to consider their family planning options and general lack of interest in education, this bright, articulate child’s future is being squandered. 

Sheela (bottom left) on her first day of school in 2007
Sheela is eager to go to school and has asked if she can be enrolled in school (for the third?/fourth? time) again in June.  And so we will have to begin the cycle - trying to convince the parents, getting the proper documentation, enrolling Sheela, and then doing everything in our power to ensure that she can continue to attend school – all over again. 
Sheela yesterday with her younger sister, Komal

It would be easy to give up and write Sheela’s case off as hopeless.  But as she peers through the window into Claudia didi’s office at the Education Centre, eyeing stacks of school supplies and books, and chatters excitedly with other children from her community who are now attending school, it is clear that we can’t give up just yet.

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