Wednesday, October 15, 2008

BLOG ACTION DAY:Poverty

I once taught a bunch of smart, precocious girls in Delhi. They were welcome to walk in and out of the 'class', anytime between 11 am and 1 pm, depending on when they were free from their work as domestic helpers. Eager learners, most of them would have been bright scholars, but were destined to do dishes in middle class homes. A fate no different from their mothers. I spoke to their mothers about letting them give class tenth exam privately, but their mothers were helpless, the girls were needed for working at home and outside.


The groups of barefoot girls in school uniform asking for lift to school, don't know about the above experience, so they have no idea how the sight of their cheerful blue ribbons and clean, faded uniforms fills me with delight. I always stop and let them in. They can never imagine what joy it gives me to ask them if they know 'Sare jahan se achcha', knowing full well they do. They almost never know what 'mazhab naheen sikhata aapas mein bair rakhna' means, and I always make sure I tell them. I should have been a teacher! They all have been trained to say they wish to grow up and ‘become doctors’. Even an optimist like me knows that is extremely unlikely to happen. But I am happy they are not scrubbing greasy dishes at least.

Most have working mothers, alcoholic fathers, cricket loving brothers and second hand colour televisions. Some have DVD players, cell phones and Mixer Grinders in their houses which leak in monsoons. They all want to learn to speak in English. They don't think about their future.

They don’t live good lives but I am glad when they grow older they will have memories that the other girls will not. True our schools are the wost possible, missing teachers, corporal punishment, students running errands for the teachers... I know all that. BUT STILL.

These girls aren’t any richer than the one’s I attempted to teach in Delhi, but their parents realise that they must go to school.

They will work for a living, but not as poorly paid maid servants, their children will study higher than them. The girls who never go to school have no hope of a better future for their children, these girls do.

Even the unluckiest of them will, at the least, work as well-paid, well fed, House Keepers, they will answer phone calls, heat baby food in microwave, write daily 'hisaab' and they will have Post Office accounts and earn better salaries than the ones who never went to school. I have seen many attend computer classes, work as sales girls in shopping malls, some work as assistants to Beauticians, some are proud SAHMs and help their kids with home work. Yes, I know this isn’t much, but when I tell them I demand some 'singing along', in return of the lift and they giggle confidently and tell me which songs they learnt in school ... I can’t help feeling hopeful.


23 comments:

Mampi said...

You remind me, even i have to do a post on the blog action day.
But the schedule is maddening.
Can we do it a day later too?

Your post is wonderful. And the style was amazing.
Yes, I say amen to your hope. It was a noble deed to give them more than the three R's.

Pinku said...

lovely post.... and agree with you those children who study even if it be to a bsic class 8 or 10th will stand a better chance in life.

and most importantly they will ensure a better future for their family. Like they say teach a boy, you teach one, teach a girl and a whole family learns.

Why cant you teach again, like u did in Delhi?

WaitingforSunshine said...

Amen! and as usual.. wonderful post

Indian Home Maker said...

@Mampi If you are really busy, then I remember a very nice post of yours...You once wrote about a woman who left her baby in the middle of the road, that was very nice...you could re-post that??

The girls I taught were all our areas servants' daughters, and I can't claim to have taught them much ...sad because they were smart, in better families they would have done very well.

Indian Home Maker said...

@Pinku Where I stay all the children go to school. I did teach English and some Hindi to my maid, she's seventeen now and married, despite all my brain washing! She wanted to learn to earn, and knew Kannada. She was I am sure amongst the best paid here. And deserved it.
Sponsoring a girl-child's education is a better option I have feel. More organized.

Mampi said...

IHM-Bless you
thank you so much.
I would have loved to do a new post.
but yes, something IS better than nothing.

Indian Home Maker said...

@waitingforsunshine Thanks :)

Indian Home Maker said...

@Mampi :)

Monika,Ansh said...

Nice post IHM as always. You make me feel so optimistic about stuff. You seem so good with kids. Ever thought of teaching as a profession?

Imp's Mom said...

lovely post as usual :)

education is very important and even a bit of it changes your whole outlook towards life..

you used to teach?

manju said...

IHM- Thanks for reminding us about Blog Action Day. I will also write a post later today.

Wonderful post! Your empathy for children who are less privileged is very evident.

Indian Home Maker said...

@monika.ansh Need some optimism to survive in these terrible times :) But you can't deny we are progressing despite every thing?

@Imp's Mom No I don't teach :) Only rarely, like that one time in an improvised class room, not formally.
I think all of us Indian agree about education being extremely important. Sadly our schools are still not up to the mark!

Monika said...

lovely and motivating post... have to do a post myself... its half written in the drafts but the work load is crazy these days as it is and then there is no maid still.... but hope to finish it by night...

Ajit said...

@IHM,
Great Post....
Beautifully written….
Education is always the key... Isn’t it…
When I read this post, I get reminded of a one liner:
“If only youth knew, what youth could”.

Even if children of poor people go to school, though they have dreams of the future, very few have a road map or even think of achieving it.

Yes, they have a million road blocks….But I believe that with help from others they can atleast improve their standard of living and not do what their parents did.

Mavin said...

IHM

Isn't it a wonderful feeling when we do something that makes a positive difference in somebody's life.

Thanks for the intimation. I have written a post too. Check it ouut.

Corinne Rodrigues said...

Hi IHM - Thanks for this wonderful post and for letting me know about Blog Action Day: Poverty.

Have mentioned your blog in post on the same subject....

C

Aneela Z said...

umm didnt i just comment here?

Indian Home Maker said...

@Loved the one liner, so true!
We are progressing, only it is too slow. We need a revolution, economical and social revolution, but sounds like a dream :(

Indian Home Maker said...

Yes, it does. And it doesn't take much. India is full of people who can benefit from a little help.
Read your post, and agree with empowerment with self reliance.

Indian Home Maker said...

Monika Read your post just now and agreed wholeheartedly with the adoption idea, and/or whatever we all can do :) All the best to you...Look at Angelina Jolie and Brat Pitt :)

Indian Home Maker said...

@Corinne Thanks ! Read your lovely words... made my day :)

Z@ki-R said...

A blog with hearts..what else I can say...I know I have to come back to this blog regularly. You people are hopes....I wish I could also take part in my little way to give something to the society.

Indian Home Maker said...

@Z@kir-R Welcome to this blog :)
WE are all our hope!
Now I am hopping over to your blogs ...