So just after I published the post about ‘whopppie we are a month old’, I get a call from a very irritated Shaila saying she is not doing anything to celebrate one month since she has had a crazy, busy day. But of course she did something (how could she not, the little brats are her life)! She got pretty little hair-clips for our girls- since Street Smart is mostly all female- and toffees for everybody. Sangamitra was asked to hand out the clips since she is leaving soon.So it was nice and then it was back to the business of painting. We had two new kids sitting with us the whole time and another two who ate with us, then ran away and then came over towards the end, only to stay for much longer than Street Smart usually stays put! Their mother came along as well and actually wanted to know about what we intend to do, and was forthright in asking us what will the kids and their families get, by studying.We had a meeting a few days earlier with the whole Street Smart team, where we designated February “Parents’ month”. So we have been divided into groups of three members each and will visit the families/communities from where the kids belong several times throughout February and in the coming months as well. The idea is to gradually bond with them and involve them in our work so that they know their kids are in good hands and also understand that our work will not disrupt their lives. The thing is, many of our kids complain of being beaten by their family members when they sit for Street Smart everyday and so we do not want our kids to be pulled by us on one side and by their families on the other. Plus, we need to work with the community against begging and on alternative livelihood techniques so that they are comfortable with their kids spending more time at school or in vocational training classes.
So in the first month we have firmly established our presence at Astley Hall and the coming months will see us spreading our wings and moving towards (what one of our members always says) the roots. There is also a campaign against begging that is being planned out (have I mentioned this earlier?) because at the end of the day, these kids will not beg if people stop giving money to them. Once the stop giving, we swoop in with our business plans that will ensure they earn while also acquiring basic literacy.
Of course, in my simple, fool-proof plan, I have not mentioned the ten thousand hurdles, speed bumps and problems we will encounter. But we surge ahead, ready for whatever comes and laughing together all the way!