Thursday 30 August 2018
Vikas, a 13 year old energetic boy, having an infectious smile stopped going to school after he lost his father two years back. He started supporting his mother and three younger siblings as he was the only bread earner in the family. He lives in the Sherbhukha Village of Maner block (a satellite town in Patna district).
Sherbhukha village is hardly few kilometres away from the river Ganga and has a population of around 3000 people. There are many shops in the crowded streets of the village. The sand mafia has encroached the lives of local people as the sand of river Ganga is highly priced. Government regulations are not being followed. Most people from the village work as daily wagers for loading and unloading dilapidated boats ferrying the sand from the river. Vikas’s father died when his boat, ferrying the sand, sank in the river.
This brought an unimaginable turmoil in the life of his family members as they were surviving on his daily wages. Vikas used to regularly attend school before the untimely death of his father. His mother Indu Devi started working as a sweeper at a private school with a mere salary of Rs.1000 a month with Rs.200 monthly as Widow Pension. They were not able to make both ends meet because of insufficient funds. Vikas was shocked and depressed, seeing the plight of his family yet showing great maturity for a child of his age, he decided to discontinue his studies and work at a local grocery store as a helper to supplement the lost family income.
Government Middle School, Sherbukha is one of the 50 schools where BVLGARI supported “Education to Empowerment: Pillars of Learning” project is being implemented by Nari Gunjan, a local partner organisation of Save the Children, India. Primarily, project activities at the school include monitoring dropouts and making sustained efforts to bring them back, increase children’s reading abilities through the concept of Reading Buddies, formation of Children’s Groups (Child Cabinet) and equipping children with information on Child Rights. Through these activities, staff members of Nari Gunjan learnt about Vikas and how he became a drop-out child.
Academic Support Fellows from Nari Gunjan visited Vikas’s house and a one-on-one interaction with his mother. They tried to persuade his mother to send him back to school. Vikas was counselled many times, he was made aware about the importance of education and was provided with the required psycho-social support.
In addition to giving wings to his ambitions, re-joining school gave Vikas the motivation to bring his childhood friend and classmate Rohit back to formal education as Rohit, like Vikas, also lost his father a year ago due to Jaundice and went through a similar emotional trauma and pain, and had quit school.
Vikas is now performing well and is working hard to have a bright future. Save the Children with its commitment for “Every Last Child” aspires that every child, particularly those in vulnerable situations like Vikas must also get a chance to attend formal education. School and their social milieu must provide them a healthy and conducive environment so that these children don’t drop-out from school and succumb to harsh realities of life in the village.