We visited SNEHA Centre today. This stands for the Society for Nurture, Education, Health and Advancement. Dr Reeta and Hari, her husband, showed us the wonderful work they do educating 900 children. All of the children are from the slum. Their parents contribute to the fee for their education and school uniform. This was a school holiday today yet 250 came in to greet us. There are 26 teachers in the school. The children have a varied education learning maths, science, Hindi and English. At midday, there is an educational program for the poorest of children from the slum. These are government sponsored children who enter a preparatory class and then move on to a class appropriate to their age and ability. Our memory of all the children is of smiling faces, excitement, and giggling just like all other children.
Attached to the school is a training centre for women where they learn dressmaking skills and arts and crafts which provides additional income for their family. There is also a health centre here for community health workers who both live and work in the slum. Our lasting memory of SNEHA is one of hope, joy and dignity. We wish to contribute to this school by building a toilet block to replace the 8 toilets which serve the 900 children.
In the afternoon, both Hari and Reeta took us on a walking tour of the slum which houses 10,000 people. It is hard to describe the living conditions of these families. There were open sewers, with pigs, goats and hens all sharing the same accommodation as the people. Families earned their living by recycling rubbish. The municipal workers earned their living by catching rats with their bare hands. The poorest of children could be seen in the filthy river scavenging through the rubbish for items of value.
We thank Reeta and Hari who choose a life of uncertainty to help raise the aspirations and health of this community.
Hope springs eternal!