Our story is about helping children
Six days a week about 260 children are educated and fed through the work of projecthelpindia.co. They are incredible kids, each who have a powerful story to tell. They are victims of terrible poverty and desperate circumstances. They are beautiful children with great big smiles (they are very serious however when they have their photo taken). 80 kids come from two slum areas in Kotdwara and 120 children are from three jungle villages. Another 40 slum kids attend a class in the city of Bijnor which is about an hour's drive from Kotdwara.
They attend classes for 2 hours, six days a week. They are also given a large healthy meal. The children learn Hindi, English, Mathematics, Spelling and life skills. The classes are held in very basic homes and outdoor areas. In one village all learning is sometimes outdoors underneath a tree. Most of these children would otherwise never attend a school, or receive any education. Instead, they would ‘reg pick’ spending their day collecting plastic waste for recycling, begging or forced child labour. These children are still very vulnerable, especially to abuse, religious sacrifices, exploitation and sex trafficking. Attending ‘school’ allows them to be cared for, watched and fed. Learning some basic skills gives them some foundations and confidence for moving to a proper government school and to have personal dreams for the future. Similarly, their parents begin to have hopes and aspirations for their children beyond the generation cycle of poverty they have grown up in. There is great tension for the parents as they ‘release’ and allow their children to attend school rather than reg picking and begging, because this child labour contributes to a significant amount of the essential family income.
In June 2018, we began classes for children with disabilities. These classes are held at our City Centre in Kotdwara, and these wonderful children come along three times a week.
Our programs currently employ 6 teachers and 6 cooks and we provide administrative support, training and very basic resources for the centres.
Sharing the story of some beautiful people
When Doug first met Vansh, he was a malnourished baby weighing 2.3kg at age 3 months. His mother Supna was unable to breastfeed him and he and mum were both very sick from not having adequate shelter. Their slum house (about the size of a 2 man tent) leaked terribly in the monsoon rain. Vansh needed immediate help and his life was saved simply by Doug being ‘at the right place at the right time’. Doug bought 6 months supply of baby milk powder from the town pharmacy and with help from Amit’s friend, Dr. Manoj Agrawal, Vansh quickly grew in health and size.
Vansh’s mother sent this message to Doug via Amit, some months later…
Dear Mr. Doug,
Greetings to you from India, Village kashirampur (Slums) Kotdwara.
I am writing you this letter in hindi and i requested to Mr. Amit samuel for translation this letter in English. As u are looking Vansh in his current photograph this only happened because of you and Mr. Amit Samuel. I am very thankful to God and u for your kind help regarding milk powder and plastic sheet for my boy and family. After your help i am getting milk powder and medical help from Amit samuel for my Son Vansh. I and my family are very thankful the work witch going on through Project Help and u. My Son Vansh is growing well. Now he can laugh,eat, and play because of your Help and support. Thanks for everything which u are doing for slums children regarding education and health. I am writing u from my heart. I herd lots about u and your family and about organization from Amit Samuel. Thank you so much once again for everything which u people are doing for us.
Sapna Mother of Vansh
(Letter Translated By Amit Samuel)
Supna and Vansh move between the Kotdwara slum and the family mountain village. In 2015 the father was arrested for alleged murder. He has many problems with alcohol and violence. He hope and pray that little Vansh grows up to become a happy young boy. There are many hurdles that lay ahead for him and his mum.
Empowering women to live with value and purpose
Our annual ‘SHINE’ Women’s Empowerment Conference reaches out to nearly 1000 women and high school students with a message of self-worth, value and purpose. This conference provides seminars empowering women in all facets of life including women’s rights, health, hygiene, sex education, goal setting, personal growth and development.
Meet some other amazing people who are part of our story too
The people of Kotdwara are beautiful. They are warm, kind and welcoming. Life is simple and hard for them. Our projects extend to people in need including medical help, crisis counselling, parent education programs, and social work intervention. There are many homeless people in Kotdwara. Many have been beggars since childhood and they suffer from terrible disabilities or mental illness (often both). Amit and Daisy have become friends with many street people and offer them help, encouragement, guidance and keep a watchful eye on their needs and safety.
We provide financial support to Sharafat who is aged 24 years, and sadly a paraplegic who was recently hit by a car whilst walking by the side of a road. Sharafat’s family (he has a mum and 8 siblings) have all been incredibly impacted by the accident. Sharafat’s two younger sisters Nazrin and Parveen have stopped going to school to be able to look after him. Only Sharafat’s older brother earns money for the entire family amounting to $25 (AUS) a week. We hope to increase this amount over time. In April 2017 we purchased a new wheelchair for Sharafat, however, he still cannot leave his house because there is no ramp. We are working hard to improve life for him and his family.
This is Kavi Raj. He caught leprosy when he was 8 years old. He lives in a leprosy colony on the outskirts of Kotdwara and comes into town each day to beg on the street. He is a happy and lovely guy who always has a friendly smile and loves a chat, despite his circumstances. Kavi Raj always brings us great happiness when we visit him.
Sunjay is a young community leader from the very small jungle village of Parmawala. Sunjay and his wife Rakhi have a daughter Bhumika. Sunjay runs the education centre in his village and Rakhi teaches the children and also young women at the new tailoring classes held in their house. Rakhi’s mother, Savitry Davi lives with the family. She is a great cook and she prepares the daily meals for the children. Sunjay is a teacher in one of our other jungle centres.
Sunjay works with all of the teachers in our village education centres and acts as community leader for parents and others. We pay for Sunjay’s wage and college fees where he is in his second year studying law. His wisdom and leadership in the villages is having a big impact in his community.
Our teachers are not qualified as such. They are interviewed by Amit and Sunjay for their suitability in the role. They live in the villages where they teach and run classes for 2 hours a day. They receive training and ongoing support from both Amit, Daisy, Sunjay and Doug Thomas when he visits. They must attend monthly teacher team meetings and they also have the opportunity to join a local primary school for some teacher training sessions. Our Teacher Development Project is in its very early days. Our first ever training session was held by Doug in October 2015, and now happens at least twice a year.
Aarav is 11 years old (2018) and he attends our slum centre. Life is very tough for him living with a dad who is an alcoholic. He was very nervous when he first attended school as this was not a place he was at all familiar with. He reflected about his first day at our school..."that was the most loved I had felt in my life. I couldn’t stop myself from smiling and laughing along with the rest of the group. I was truly happy for the first time in my life". Aarav's smile says it all.
Rabiya, Farah and Ayush attend our Disability Programs
Farah is 18 years old. Both of her parents have polio and they cannot walk. Farah loves coming to our centre and she cries when she has to go home.
Ayush is ten years old and he is from a Hindu family. He has never been to school. When at age 5, his parents realised that he had a mental disability, relatives advised his parents to “throw him out or send him to an orphanage”. Ayush’s mother was determined to keep him and now she is finally receiving some help and support from Project Help. Here he is with his wonderful teacher Naomi.
Rabiya is from a Muslim family. She was impacted by neonatal drug taking, was born premature and although “she understands everything” (not sure what this means) she cannot speak or walk. She loves coming to our centre where she is learning to read and write. Her smile lights up the place when she arrives. We love Rabiya! She is a beautiful young woman.
Aditya is a remarkable young man who attends one of our slum centres. Aditya's father died of tuberculosis and he lives in the slums with his mother, 3 sisters and 2 brothers. He has maturity beyond his years, a very big heart and very big dreams for the future. When he grows up he wants to become a policeman. We asked him why... "I want to serve my country because after becoming an Police officer I will be able to solve my countries problem and also will help to make India a better and more developed Country. I want to stop poor people who stop their kids going to school because of poverty. which leaves them without the English and maths skills they need for the future.”
Bandita is 7 years old and in Grade 2.
Bandita takes her studies at our Slum Centre very seriously, because she knows that her education is the key to her future. She never complains. She lives with her mother and 3 siblings. Her dad is working very hard for the family as a labourer in another town. Mum works in a stall at the markets. Together her mum and dad bring in 3000 rupees a month - this is about $60AUS or $15 a week. They live in a slum house made of plastic and corrugated iron. They have no appliances and they wish for a fan because it gets so hot in summer.
This is Harleen
Harleen is 12 (July 2018). She lives in the slums of Bijnor. Her mother and father work hard for very little money. Dad drives a rick-shaw. He earns $50AUS a month (2500 rupees). Mum earns another $20 a month for the family by knocking door to door, exchanging cooking utensils for old clothes and on-selling them. They don't even have enough money for necessary medications and family needs. Because of the poverty they live in, Harleen and three siblings had to stop going to school. Thankfully Harleen comes to our Bijnor School Centre. Pray that her future is bright.
This is Sonia and like the famous Indian Prime Minister, this beautiful girl is wise. We pray that her future is filled with successful learning. Sonia attends one of our Slum Centres. She is 11 years old (August 2018) and she lives with her Aunt. Her dad works in another town where he is struggling to make ends meet as a fruit seller. It was Sonia's Aunt who asked for her to be enrolled at our school. We are delighted with her attitude and progress. Sonia says "thank you" each and every day, she is so appreciative. We think she is amazing!
Sinita - a mum impacted by domestic violence
Sinita loves her four kids dearly, like any mum does, and in desperation she has reached out to Project Help. The family is impacted by abuse and domestic violence. The situation is complicated and the solution is certainly not simple. Thankfully there are people who can assist, and people are aware of the issue. Sinita has someone to talk to, and from whom she receives guidance. She also has the reassurance that her kids are now going to school and receiving a basic education and care each day at one of the Project Help Centres.
As we reach out to Sunita and to other women like her, a goal of Project Help India is to work towards generational change and create lasting impact. As well as providing the crucial intervention needed by this mum and her daughters, we will be working towards creating a new future and new perspectives for these girls, so that they do not accept this treatment and learn about how they should be treated by men when they grow up.
We thank a number of our supporters, who in August 2018, have reached out to help this beautiful family.
Meet the girls from our July 2018 student intake at our Technology Classes
These girls are learning basic keyboard and technology skills to assist them to apply for jobs and gain success in the workplace. As well as attending classes, they talk with their teacher Daisy about life skills, share a laugh and a tear, and talk about their problems as they bond together as a lovely group of delightful young friends. At Project Help we seek to empower young women like these girls, as they face the harsh realities and challenges of poverty and slum living.
Kajal is a student of our City Centre School and also the student of Computer Centre. She is 12 years old. Kajal left in 6th class at government school. She lives in a rented house with her family. She has one brother and one sister. Her mother is a maid and father is an auto driver.
When we had talk to Kajal about her feelings towards our City Centre, she said, "I love to come over here. Here I learnt a lot of things in computer. Now I’m able to operate computer function. I love to do work in computer. I have no computer at my home, But I am very lucky that I get computer to learn. Computer Madam, Mrs. Daisy explains very deeply each functions of the computer. I love her way of teaching. She always used to tell that how we have to do work hard so that we can help our parents". Kajal said ..."I feel here like a family member here".
Aarushi - Ray of Light
This treasure really is a ray of light and her shy and very self-conscious smile lights up any room. As a young teenage girl she desperately needed some medical assistance, just a simple visit to the doctor, the type of help that we take for granted in the western world. Aarushi's family, however could not afford to the doctors but thankfully in June 2018, Project Help was able to help by paying their 700 rupee ($14AUS) medical bill. Aarushi is growing in self confidence and has more dignity and her smile shines brighter than ever because she is better and stronger than ever.
Krish - A legend of legends
It was only 2 years ago when this little champion sadly lost his arm due to an infection. It shouldn't have happened. It was a crime and thankfully, the phoney doctor was arrested. The story of Krish and the injustice of his situation and story and the work of Project Help made the National Indian news, in the papers and on television (see earlier blogs for the full story).
This August (2018), Krish was interviewed by our Project Officer and below is the report of how he is doing...
Krish is one of the student in our slum center whose hand were cut in the operation due to the infection does he feel good as he have only one hand or does he think that he have one hand so he is weak etc. Krish replied, "No sir, you always motivate me which give’s me so much strength. I’m very thankful that God save my life, it’s enough for me. Sometime I wish that I had two hand but that time I remember Amit Sir’s word that he always says, most of us take our lives for granted."
Despite. Krish is living now a happy life. When we had talk to Krish about his feelings that “being physically fit, we keep complaining and making excuses. And here they are - the so-called differently-able -people, who prove that you don't need two hands, legs or eyes to succeed. All you need is willpower and determination. There are so many people who not only overcame their physical handicaps, but also achieved goals which even able-bodied people would find difficult. One of them is our Sharath Gayakwad, Paralympics swimmer, who was also the first Indian to qualify for the London Olympics for the disabled in 2010. After listening sir thoughts he feel good and giving thank to God and Amit sir who help to save his life. Now he is keeping deep interest in study so that he will be a good educated citizen.
Krish is studying hard. He is shy and does not like any fuss or attention placed on him. We are believing for a remarkable future for him. This happy ending would not have been possible if it wasn't for the generosity of so many of our supporters back in 2016. Thank you!
Meet some of the awesome kids we are helping
It is such a pleasure to see these children smiling and flourishing despite their heartbreaking personal circumstances.
Top - Angel, Avesh, Harshita and Chetan
Middle - Raahithya, Sarah, Aakash and Shalini
Bottom row - Nidhi, Adnan, Saachi and Rani
Meet three more beautiful people
This October (2018) we were delighted to take three new enrolments in our Disability Centre.
(below from left to right)
Sia is 12 years old and her name means ‘One who brings joy’. Sia cannot speak. She loves coming to school. We are working closely with Sia’s parents who have never received any help or guidance in how to best care and respond to her many needs.
Jayesh is 3 years old. When he first started to attend our Centre he was quite malnourished. He loves sitting on chairs, playing with toys and singing along with action songs. Jayesh means Victory and this is what we pray his life will be filled with.
Himmat is 17 years old. He has never been to school and as a result, he has so much to learn in all aspects of his growth and development. His name means ‘courage’. We see him as a courageous young man because he has never socialised before, or had the opportunity to venture out of his house. His journey over the days ahead is going to be a challenge but we believe that with the love he gets from the Project Help India Team, he can have an optimistic and happy future.