Situation before Intervention: Born in 2006, at a remote village in Bihar (one of the eastern states in India, neighbouring West Bengal), Sailesh Das came to Kolkata with his family at the age of 10 years, in 2016. He studied in a school in his native village and had been a Class II drop out in 2016, before coming to the city of joy. He stays with his parents at Raja Bazaar (located in North-Central Kolkata). His father is the owner of a small shoe stall near Dharmatala (Central Kolkata) Bus Stand and being the only child, he helped his father with their family business. Needless to mention, Sailesh’s mother is a house-wife with hardly any say in their family and thus was unable to pay any attention or guide him with any good suggestion.

Situation after Intervention:Sailesh was identified in September, 2017, by our social worker in Dharmatala and was immediately brought under our supervision. Immediate action was taken and Sailesh’s father was socially counselled by our team about the fundamental understanding of Child Labour Regulation Act and the Offense associated with this Law.
In the beginning Sailesh’s father was not willing to co-operate as according to him, he was not committing a crime since it was his own son and early-earning helps one to understand the value and thus create, a respect for money. That childhood is meant for education and learning and hence, education is the only method which can enable a child to think in a progressive manner – was specifically emphasized by our social worker. Finally, his father succumbed to the idea of importance of education to grow and evolve as a human being and thus our Child Watch team assisted Sailesh with admission at Mouzilal Primary School (located beside New Market Police Station, in Dharmatala) on 1st December, 2017, in Class IV.
Though it was found a couple of times, even after Sailesh’s enrolment, his engagement with the shoe-business was still on, after his school hours, further intervention was made by the Child watch team. This time, the focus was on the types of punishment one needs to go through, after violation of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act. This time, his father took it more seriously and has ensured the team to keep Sailesh away from any kind of work related activity.
At present, Sailesh is 12 years old and is studying in class IV at Mouzilal Primary School. He attends his classes on a regular basis and loves the sessions. Additionally, he has taken up painting as it helps him to channel his thoughts and worries. Regular follow up and supervision by the team is in progress to ensure Sailesh is safe from any kind of child labour related activity.

Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality

Situation before Intervention: Rajnikant Biswas born in 2012, lived with parents and grandfather on the streets of Kolkata – Moulali (central Kolkata) to be specific. His father suffering from a chronic disease expired when Rajnikant was 1 year old. Little did the child know about his upcoming bitter days. Love and compassion are two vital things for these people living in such vulnerable conditions and reality changes entirely depending on the subjects of their lives. His mother fell in love with another man and abandoned little Raj at the age of 2 years for good, leaving him alone with his grandmother in 2014. Since then, he has been living on the streets of Moulali with his old grandmother who works as a domestic help to earn one square meal for two.

Situation after Intervention: Rajnikant was identified by the Child watch team in April, 2017 wandering aimlessly and immediate intervention was made thereafter. It was discovered from his grandmother about her daily working hours that allows little Raj to roam around the highly congested Moulali crossing (remarkably known for high traffic and as an accident-prone area in central Kolkata) and play with the other children. Thus, the team explained to his grandmother about different cases of child abduction and child trafficking. Here she mentioned about one such incident when Raj was nowhere to be found for some hours and with the prompt intervention of Kolkata Police, he was brought back miraculously. She also expressed her agony and despair about the current situation and how futile her attempts were to support her grandchild with minimum care, protection or education.
Vulnerability is a social phenomenon and situations can be really harsh. But again, there is hope, there is faith and there is a better opportunity. Education is that pathway which leads one to aspire for a change. After discussing these facts with Raj’s grandmother, she was convinced to enrol him in a school. However, there still lied the risks of living on the streets.
Multiple social counselling sessions were conducted by the Child watch team to raise awareness about Right to Education and Child Protection. Thus on 9th January 2018, Raj was placed in Bengal Service Society Hostel, a Government Hostel for children in Picnic Garden (South Kolkata) where his holistic protection and education along with nutrition will be provided.
Living on the streets in freedom has its own perks and Rajnikant was not willing to be separated from his grandmother and stay in a hostel. Once again, the Child watch team sat with both Rajnikant and his grandmother and discussed with them about the advantages of staying in a hostel, the disadvantages of living on the streets, cases of child- trafficking and child-abuse. Also that his grandmother can come and visit the child on a regular basis was also mentioned by the team and finally both of them were convinced about staying in hostel.
At present, Rajnikant is staying in the hostel and studying in class I at Sunilnagar Primary School (in Picnic Garden, located near the hostel). Regular follow up is being done by the Child watch team to ensure his stay and Raj’s grandmother visits the child on a daily basis as well. Both are doing well and are thankful to Hope for bringing this change in their perceptions and outlook.

Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality

Situation before Intervention: Rukmini Das (38 years old) is a regular student of the Hope Skills Unit in Chetla (located in South Kolkata) along with her daughter who is also a regular participant in the computer unit. Her husband is an electrician and thus to provide financial support, earlier, she had worked as a cook. She came to know about Hope Kolkata Foundation from her community members and decided to join us.

Situation after Intervention:Rukmini Das joined us in May, 2017. After joining, she shared her joy to be a part of our computer programme and expressed her immense motivation to complete the whole course. She had been a drop out after passing Class VIII since being in responsible for her entire household chores and vulnerable socio-economic conditions.
Initially Basanti was naïve in computers and technical knowledge but with continuous motivation and encouragement, she came out of her shell and started enquiring about the logic behind basic computer applications. She wanted to enhance her computer and English speaking skills. She is determined to improve her vocational skills maintaining more than 70% attendance. She never sits idle and aspires to turn her ambition of earning money in an honourable way, working in an office or so. According to her, there is no shame in learning and attending classes with students junior than her as she has realized that when it comes to education, age is just a number. Rukmini Das is thankful to Hope Kolkata Foundation which she feels is truly a blessing in disguise for all those who have dropped out of school or are in school, to improve their personality and give them an exposure of the modern world with the newest technological developments.

Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality

Situation before Intervention: Alifa Bewa (36 years old) lives with her parents and 14 years old daughter in Howrah. His husband was a private tutor who in order to earn more and support the family in a better way, started working in a jute mill. However, misfortune struck her family when her husband unable to withstand the physical and mental stress, had a heart attack and died on spot. With complete no support from her in-laws family, Alifa was forced to seek shelter with her child at her parent’s place in Howrah, near her late husband’s house. Sometimes, it becomes very hard for a single mother to stand against the engulfing patriarchal perspective of the society, but Alifa stood against this menace, bravely. After getting to know the whereabouts of Howrah Life skills Centre, she immediately got in touch with the institutional authority and enrolled herself with the programme.

Situation after Intervention:Alifa joined the Computer Application & Spoken English and Personality Development training program under Hope in October 2017. Being a fresher she did not have much experience in computers, but her willpower and determination was appreciated by every participant in the class.
Raising questions and expressing curiosity about every particular area, wherever she thought needed explanations, was started by Alifa from the very first day. She understood that to strengthen the base for aspiring and dreaming is a mandate. Gradually, she became one of our brightest participants and at present she has learnt multiple things related to the Basics of Computer Application Course.
Coming to the Spoken English Curriculum, she did not have a proper English Background or an environment to learn the language. At present, she is actively participating in our interactive sessions and attending the career counselling sessions. She is trying hard to overcome her gaps and is very sincere in class.
Though she has passed the Madhyamik Examination (Class X Board Examination), she recently shared that, “I dream to sit for Class XII Board Examination from the National Open Schooling, this year if possible or certainly next year. Education is the pillar of success and in today’s world, knowledge of computers, is the foundation of any career. I tend to be an example for those women who forget to dream and become deprived of their rights and freedom. I will study and ensure my daughter completes her graduation and has a nice job. Thank you Hope, for giving me wings to fly, and inspire hundreds of women like me.”

Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality

Situation before Intervention: Superstition is considered as a wide spread social problem and unless treated rationally and logically, vulnerability only tends to grow like a parasite feeding on darkness and fear. When Pujan Majhi was born in Narkeldanga (North Kolkata) in 2011 and showed early signs of multiple disabilities, Surendranath Majhi (Pujan’s father) and Malti Majhi (Pujan’s mother) considered their child as a symbol of their sin committed in their previous births with no idea of how to make amends during this lifetime. Thus, Surendranath Majhi and Malti Majhi, never visited any hospital or relevant institution seeking any kind of help or support to ensure aid for Pujan. For families living under vulnerable socio-economic conditions where the only bread-earner works as a daily wage labourer, raising up a child with special needs and to support him with relevant therapies and guidance of a special educator, is not only a luxury but a dream to be true.

Situation after Intervention: An awareness camp was organized in Narkeldanga near Pujan’s home by our special educators to raise awareness on Disability in March, 2017. Post this camp, the community people shared the information about a little boy who could neither locomote or move, speak or express any emotion, in the community. Thus our special educator immediately went to this little boy’s home where he met his parents and had a long discussion with them. After having an intense conversation with his parents, our special educator was successful to motivate and encourage them on:

  1. Disability is a part of human diversity and 15% of the world’s population, experience some form of disability.
  2. The main categories of disability are physical, sensory, psychiatric, neurological, cognitive and intellectual. Many people with disability have multiple disabilities.
  3. People with disability are part of every section of our community: men, women and children, employers and employees, students and teachers, indigenous and non-indigenous, customers, and citizens. No two people with the same disability experience their disability in the same way.
  4. The only thing that distinguishes a person with disability is they may require some form of adaptation/adjustment to enable them to do certain things in the same way as people without disability.
  5. People with disabilities have the same health needs as non-disabled people – for immunization, health screening etc.
Turning Point: Because of this positive encouragement

  1. Pujan’s parents enrolled him in Kolkata Municipal Corporation Primary School at Narkeldanga, near their house.
  2. Our special educator guided his parents to seek engagement of the child with the Government Resource centre to ensure special education and necessary physiotherapies.
  3. Additionally, Pujan and his family visited RG Kar Hospital (a government hospital in North Kolkata) to avail the Disability Card and with proper assistance by our special educator, all the legal procedures got completed and he got his card.
Present Situation: At present, Pujan is a student of Kolkata Municipal Corporation Primary School in Class I.

  1. His mother accompanies him to the school, once in every week, where he is sits on a chair and is given a stress ball or a small toy for gripping to work on his motor skills.
  2. The environment of the class is helping Pujan to generate a connection with the other children and somewhere it creates a stir in his mother’s mind that his son has a right to education and a friendly environment, just like the other children.
  3. He has received his Disability Card which claims his 90% disability.
  4. Pujan receives Government support after getting the disability card like concession on the medical support, therapy support and also the concession on the bus and train fair.
  5. Our special educator visits him every month to follow up on his improvement and progress in physiotherapy.
  6. Gradual improvement has been noticed for Pujan who responds gently to these therapies and is showing slow development as a result of this constant support and compassion.

Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality

Situation before Intervention: Rohit Dutta (7 years old) has always been an exceptional introvert, especially for his age. It was a deep matter of concern for his parents when little Rohit did not learn how to speak even at 5 years old, in 2011. Rajib Dutta (Rohit’s father) works at a local hardware shop and Satabdi Dutta (Rohit’s mother) is a homemaker, who accompanied Rohit for medical aid to avail speech therapy from a professional speech therapist. Things did not improve much since constant guidance was not given any focus and Rohit’s condition deteriorated with time. The crucial stage for development of a child begins after 5 years which lasts till his or her puberty. But for Rohit, as he grew up,

  1. He spoke very little, that too very irrelevant and at times, completely out of the context.
  2. He hardly played with any child in his community.
  3. Even at his home, he sat in one corner and spoke a couple of sentences with his parents, as required.
  4. Rohit never shared any emotion or expressed any desire from his end even to his parents’ end.
Situation after Intervention: Our special educator has conducted his monthly school visit in January, 2017, to Shyambazar AV School (a reputed school in North Kolkata) when he suddenly noticed a little boy standing with his father wearing a timid expression. He studied the boy for some time and with the help of his experience, he understood that something is definitely missing. Thus our special educator went ahead and spoke with the father who coincidentally happened to be Rajib Dutta and thus it was discovered:

  1. They have come to this school for Rohit’s admission
  2. The previous school where they went (a private school) has denied admission for Rohit after an aptitude test and an interview. The reason as told by the school authority, shared by Mr Dutta claimed that Rohit is ‘not normal’ and his presence will have an adverse effect on the other children.
  3. Thus our special educator got connected with the head teacher of AV School (Mr. Srikanta Mondal) and shared the entire story hearing which the head master readily cooperated in order to get Rohit enrolled.
Turning Point: Rohit was diagnosed with acute intellectual disability which deprived him from leading a life like the other cheerful children who are not afraid to express themselves. His parents were not aware of this kind of disability and thus never paid any additional attention to Rohit. Thus,

  1. Our special educator connected Rohit with a Government Special educator who in turn enrolled Rohit in the Government Resource Centre.
  2. Additionally, our special educator accompanied Rohit and his father to the regional centre of National Institute for the Mentally Handicaped (NIMH) now known as National Institute for the Empowerment of Persons with Intellectual Disabilities (NIEPID) in Kolkata.
  3. Rohit attends the Resource centre twice a week and for the remaining five days, he attends NIEPID along with his school.
  4. He got his admission in Shyambazar AV School in Class I in North Kolkata.
  5. Finally, Rohit and his family visited RG Kar Hospital (a government hospital in North Kolkata) to avail the Disability Card and with proper assistance by our special educator, all the legal procedures got completed and he got his card.
Present Situation: At present, Rohit is a student of Shyambazar AV School, who has been promoted to Class II in January, 2018. It has been discovered that,

  1. Rohit takes great interest in attending his school on a regular basis.
  2. He interacts with his friends in school and engages himself with daily fun activities.
  3. He likes to paint and play with his friends.
  4. Audio Visual mode of teaching appeals Rohit and he can remember small rhymes and names of days and months.
  5. He loves travelling and is keen to learn about new things.
  6. He receives Government support after getting the disability card like concession on the medical support, therapy support and also the concession on the bus and train fair.
  7. Our special educator visits him every month to follow up on his improvement and progress in speech therapy.
The Education Team from Hope Kolkata Foundation with the support of The Hope Foundation and The Irish Aid successfully celebrated World Disability Day on 18th December involving 75 children with special needs at Birla Planetarium, Central Kolkata, accompanied by their school teachers and Hope Educators, coming from 25 different Government Schools of North Kolkata, South Kolkata and Howrah in West Bengal, India. Rohit came for this educational trip with his father and according to Mr. Dutta, “Happiness is seeing my child to participate with other human beings as a normal child and experience such a moment, so closely. Thank you Hope, for this unique gift for my son.”

Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality

Situation before Intervention: Ranita Yadav is a student of Class-IX of Pour Madhyamik Balika Vidyalaya (a school till Class X) in Titagarh (Titagarh is a city and a municipality in north Kolkata). She lives at Purani Bazaar of Titagarh in a small rented room with her parents and 3 siblings. Her father is a worker in a jute mill nearby and her mother is a Self Help Group member who prepares mid-day meals in a local school. Her elder studies in class-XII and her brothers are in Class VI and Nursery, respectively. Needless to mention, it was very hard to manage the basic needs of the entire family by both the parents, which created the idea of education as a luxury with hardly any importance. Though Ranita had been a very bright girl, but her parents failed to support her with any private tuition or sit with her to guide since they never went to school. Thus, gradually with time, she gradually became weaker in her academics because of no support.

Situation after Intervention: In 2017, Ranita’s mother came to know about the remedial coaching centre of Muktangan Project and brought her to our centre. After meeting them, immediate enrolment with the programme took place. Since then, she has been a student of this coaching support. Initially was very weak in English and could hardly pronounce words from her text books. It was very humiliating for Ranita when her classmates used to make fun of her for her English reading abilities. This lack of confidence and self-assertion made her isolated from her friends and she started to bunk classes. Here, our teachers understood her challenges and thus prepared an individual lesson plan for her. They never asked Ranita to read a lesson loud in front of the whole class and worked really hard on her pronunciation, English grammar knowledge, writing skill and reading skills. This brought changes in her reading and writing abilities. She slowly started to read simple sentences and then moved to the complex ones. Now she can read her lessons fluently and additionally, helps other students with reading big chapters. This leap in faith on oneself reflected brightly in her academics. Previously her score remained between 50-60% marks in her school exams, but this year she has secured 71% marks in total and specially 79% in English. Her mother expresses her note of thankfulness in the every Parents Teacher meeting. Her school teachers are also very happy with her progress.

Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality

Situation before Intervention: Roshan Mallick was born in a remote village named Banshwara in Begusarai District (one of the 38 districts of Bihar) of Bihar (Indian state located in the eastern region, neighbouring West Bengal), in 2006. In 2011, at the age of 5 years, Roshan accompanied by his father (Ganesh Mallick) and mother (Sima Mallick) came to Kolkata with hopes of earning a better livelihood. A new city generally builds new aspirations for a human being who migrates to a new place for employment. But things turned out differently for Roshan when his father became a severe alcoholic to fight depression against unemployability within a few months of their arrival. They lived on the streets near Gariahat Market (in Gariahat) and slept in front of the shops inside the market complex. To support the family, Roshan’s mother started working as a domestic help in the nearby households and in 2012, Roshan was enrolled at a local school (Ballygunge Mohini Mohan Uchcha Vidyalaya) in Class I. Regular fights in the family about his father’s habit were very common for Little Roshan and at this tender age, he was clueless about any solution to this situation. In 2016, his mother, finding no other way to bring back his father to a normal life and fearing that her son might become one like his father, took Roshan and went back to their native village. Thus Roshan could not complete his 4 th Grade and eventually became a drop out. A single woman with barely any income along with her child is more or less vulnerable in the society, than a family living on the streets. Facing different types of abusive circumstances at home, Sima Mallick was forced to return to the streets of Kolkata with Roshan in November, 2017. They came back to the same place and this time, there was no sign of Ganesh Mallick (Roshan’s father). Little Roshan, now 11 years old, started working in a fruit shop, selling apples and grapes in the Gariahat Market campus, earning Rs 50-55 per day in order to support her mother who again started working as a domestic help.

Situation after Intervention: Roshan was identified by our social worker in January, 2018 and was immediately enrolled with our Naba Asha Non Formal Programme which acts as an intermediate stage for the identified street children in order to be mainstreamed. He has been supported with non-formal education in January and February. As discovered by our teachers,

  1. Roshan is keen to learn new things and expresses his curiosity about every minute topic discussed in the class
  2. He has good story telling capabilities and loves to create stories about the animal kingdom
  3. Not only is he intelligent, but equally disciplined and punctual in class
  4. Not only is he intelligent, but equally disciplined and punctual in class
  5. Roshan maintains all basic god practices of health and hygiene
  6. Mathematics is his favourite subject and he enjoys doing small addition and multiplication
At present, Roshan is 12 years old and lives with his mother. He attends our non formal centre from 11 am to 2 pm during which, his mother is away for work. He has already been enrolled in Kolkata Municipal Corporation School in Gariahat in Class IV and his classes are about to begin from the last week of February.

Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality

Ituation before Intervention: Pramod Rout and his brother Sunny Rout were toddlers of 5 years and 4 years, respectively, when their mother committed suicide, unable to bear prolonged mental and physical torture by their father, in 2009. Deepak Rout (Pramod’s father) worked as a street cleaner and lived on the streets beside Yogayog Bhawan (Yogayog Bhawan Post Office is near Central Metro Station, Kolkata) with his two small children and their grandmother. After the sudden loss of his mother, Pramod became extremely disturbed and unable to express or handle his distress and pain, erratic changes were noticed in his behaviour. In 2009, he was enrolled in St. George’s School (located at BB Ganguly Street, near Bowbazar, Sealdah, Kolkata) at the age of 5 years in Nursery Class. Needless to mention, Pramod was very irregular in school and his guardian was called every month by the school authority for his absenteeism and ill-behaviour like shouting, talking loudly and at times, using abusive words. Thus, in 2012, he became a drop out when his father remarried and brought their ‘new mother’ home. The world turned out to be a bitter place for Pramod where everything tasted sour and offensive. A child of his age, witnessing such a harsh reality, was afraid and terrified all the time. The father-son relationship became more and more unpleasant as days passed and he, no way, could tolerate the presence of his new mother. In 2015, with the support of the neighbours and distant family members, Pramod was re-admitted to Rani Rashmoni School (located in Central Kolkata) in Class V. With no one to pay him any kind of attention, he once again became irregular and hardly studied his lessons. He never forgot what he has gone through and thought himself responsible some way or the other, as he could not prevent his mother from dying.

Situation after Intervention: Amod was identified in May, 2017 by our social workers, studying in Class VII, as 13 years old and was immediately enrolled with our Naba Asha Formal Programme. After understanding his woes and stories of despair, regular interactive counselling sessions were initiated for him. Constant motivation and other real time examples were shared with Pramod, to emphasize how Faith and Compassion can change his attitude and overall perception about humanity. Regular home visits and intervention have helped him to overcome his grief and sorrow. As clearly found out by our teachers,

  1. The father-son relationship has improved a lot and both have been quite friendly towards each other
  2. Pramod is willing to attend his school and never misses out on our sessions
  3. Additionally, he is taking care of his sibling, Sunny and is inspiring him to study
  4. He is much attentive at present and is inquisitive about everything happening in the class
  5. He does not study for long hours but remembers everything he studies
  6. His handwriting has improved and he is equally efficient in preparing small handicrafts
  7. Pramod has scored more than 70% of marks in all the subjects and has been promoted to Class VIII. His new session has started from January, 2018
  8. He loves to paint and he let his imagination do the rest while drawing and selecting objects as his subjects
  9. Recently, he took part in the Hope Foundation Day Programme and have mesmerized everyone with his groovy steps
However, the most beautiful moment of the change was when one of our social workers went to his place and saw him asking his new mother, “Ma, please make an omelette for me, I do not like boiled eggs and am very hungry now”. Those words were more than enough to understand the change in dynamic between the mother and her child.

Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality