Having got a good briefing from Mr. Gangadar we began our walk, or should I say trek to the community houses where we would be carrying out surveys. Surveys that would give us an idea or let us know for sure how many children were enrolled in schools and the reason for the one’s who were not. This wasn’t like any other survey where only a handful of people were taken to represent the community at large. With the help of Gayatri teacher we went to each and every house to make sure we had covered all the people who currently lived there.
When I say house, the image of a decent amount of space with windows, doors, furniture and a roof might pop up in most people’s head... but this was not the case for inhabitants of these houses. If I were to make an approximation I would say that 7 to 8 people shared about 150 – 200 square feet of floor, which would usually be big enough for just 1 bedroom, and that too average sized!
To get to these houses we had to walk in sideways to prevent hitting the walls, these are houses that never went any planning, proper infrastructure construction … no proper source of water or electricity… But at the same time this is home it’s residents. Do you see them complaining about… not the least bit.
India being an agricultural country, quite a few people would go back to their villages for the harvesting season (a period of 6 months) and return to the city once that was over to keep their income rolling. Due to this continuous movement children would loose out on their education, another reason being they did not have the right paperwork to prove which standard (grade) they were currently in, which forced them to either repeat a year or stay out of school.
The range of the number of children in each house was quite astonishing, it was any where from 1 child to 8 children, the average being around 5 to 6 children per household. The reasons were pretty much the same, the girl would not go no school cause she would soon get married and the boy needed to work and help out with the family income.
Then there are always 2 sided to a coin, while some were adamant on not attending schools, the others were always looking for opportunities to study. This is when we though that we could help the people of the slums help themselves.