A return to school


It’s a bright day, a rarity in the monsoons, but it’s not the rains Sakshi is worried about. “Maaaa!” she screams. “Where is my school bag?” Sakshi’s mother Renu asks Sakshi to look behind the iron box, their home’s only place where things can be stored safely. Sakshi locates her school bag, discarded a year ago when she stopped going to school. It’s riddled with moth holes and Sakshi has to beat it against the pavement several times to check for insects. Her sister Minakshi has no school bag, so she is going to carry all her books and pencils in a polythene bag.

But all this doesn’t bother the two sisters, because they are going to school, again!

Sakshi and Minakshi were pulled out of school a year ago when Renu had a third child and couldn’t cope with the housework anymore.


The small slum in Ranchi the family calls home would be considered inhabitable by most people. The water supply, erratic at best, is at a tube-well some distance off from their shanty room. The girls’ father, Sanicharwa, makes a meagre living as a rickshaw puller, and making ends meet for his entire family of five is a daily struggle.


“I had several conversations with Renu in which she shared that the availability of basic facilities such as good quality, cheap healthcare, may have allowed her to recover faster from her third delivery, but that sort of thing is unimaginable for the very poor,” says Lakshmi, the Magic Bus staff member in charge of our work here. “I offered them some perspective about how pulling her daughters out of school will just ensure that they have a life just as difficult as her own.”


It took a long time and many such conversations, but much to Sakshi’s delight, this monsoon, her mother agreed that the girls’ education shouldn’t suffer on account of the family’s poverty.


“Lakshmi spoke to me regularly these last months, even made me part of the parent-teacher groups. Now I carry my youngest one piggy back for the five hours Sakshi and Minakshi are in school. Once they are back, they help me around the house. Their school gives them not just education, but free books, uniform and midday meals. I am very relieved that they are not growing up illiterate, like me,” says Renu.


With your support, we can make sure more girls like Sakshi and Minakshi are able to complete their education.




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