This is our first visit to Sunita's home. Mum was very busy working when we tried to visit last year.
We left with Sunita and her brother in a taxi following their English lesson here.As we taxied along the chaotic and busy roads, we were amazed at the distance these children have to travel each morning to come to Uma's. It is a good mile and a half. Yet, these two youngsters would walk the distance each morning to Uma's for 8 am start, then onto school( another mile or so ) for a 10am start. To me ,that is commitment for one so young. I understand that they have never missed the English class. According to the teacher, Sunita is progressing well, so is her brother Sunil. Sunil is not one of our sponsored children, but he is included in the class because there is no one else at home when Sunita leaves for Uma's each morning. The arrangement is working out quite well.
The family lives in a rather small and dark rented room.It was very clean. I was amazed at how mum was able to keep the place so spotless when she has so little room to manoeuvre. We had to negotiate worn cobbled stone paths, uneven steps, uphill concrete path with railings to hang on to, through the backyards of some families before reaching Sunita's home.It was quite a journey to walk through before reaching the block of multiple rented rooms
Sunita's mum was waiting for us at the door, smiling and warm in her usual self . A very lovely woman. The husband now works as an odd job man, therefore the income is erratic. Mum cleans for a school. She gets a wage of @ 3,000 rupees( @28 pounds sterling) a month. It is not enough to make ends meet. Therefore she does the odd washing jobs in the area to get the extra income to stay above the starvation level.
Two double beds are placed on either side of the room, with the cooking utensils placed on top of the kitchen unit in the middle. The room is not big, but the space is maximised. The mother was very hospitable. She asked the son to get 2 bottles of coke, a real treat for the family. Uma and I shared one, with the other left for the children.
While we were talking, the room was suddenly swamped with people . Some were in the door way talking, others peering from outside the window giving opinions about something. One neighbour even came in to sit on the bed without invitation.I thought she was a relation, but no.Then there was a girl in class 7 who lost her mother recently.She was hugging by the door way, listening intensely.All of a sudden, the room was filled with a lot of noises and faces appearing from nowhere. I was a little confused for a while, unsure what was happening. It would appear that the whole community who live around here gets on well with one another. Though every household lives in rather cramped conditions, they all appear to be warm and concerned about one another. Every household lives in one rented room regardless of the size of families. This would appear to be the norm . However, it is interesting to see how differently each household manages the space they have in the room.
Life is pretty tough on mum, trying to keep the children clothed and fed,as well as giving them the opportunity for education.She is the main bread winner in the family.She finds the expenses on sending them to school is a real burden. Having a sponsor for Sunita has helped a great deal.She asked if a sponsor could be found for her son, Sunil.I told her that there is a list of children who are waiting for me to find them sponsors. I will add Sunil's name to the list, but I have made no promises. Mum truly appreciates the opportunity Sunita has been given.I reinforced the expectation of the sponsor,that she encourages Sunita to study hard and do well in her school work.
Both parents have not had any formal education in their time. And yet mum recognises the importance of what a good education can do. Mum has the foresight and wisdom to know . She truly wants her children to have what she has missed-a normal education which we take for granted, as a given.
We have done a few home visits in the past 2 weeks. We have despaired at the helplessness /hopelessness of some of the home situations we have found ourselves in . It is on visits like this that gave me hope . That I am not wasting Uma's and my time and effort in trying to make a small difference to the children we are sponsoring. And I applaud the mother !
Who says life is fair?