Colourful Life Foundation in India

During a recent trip to India with Gemporia, Gem Collector presenter Alex McKay visited our Colourful Life Foundation India’s first completed project.

 

The latest school we are sponsoring in Jaipur stands out brightly with its freshly painted walls and new welcome sign, a far cry from the dilapidated buildings surrounding it.

Just six months ago, the Government Middle School in Bais Golam was all but a ruin, with a leaking roof, worse for wear toilets and classrooms which hadn’t been updated in over 20 years. With pupil attendance at an all-time low, the headmaster approached our offices in Jaipur, which are located just 200 yards away, for help.

The cry for help fell upon our Managing Director, Sharmil Mathur. She was quick to visit and was shocked to find that a school so close to our offices was in such dire conditions. Sharmil realised this should be the next project for the Colourful Life Foundation, India. Within just two months, the school has been completely renovated, with new toilets, new food preparation area, the leaking roof fixed, new desks, as well as shoes, uniforms and stationery for all the children.

Schooling in India works very differently to what we are used to seeing in the UK. The government’s educational remit only stretches to the supplying of teachers and daily food for pupils. The condition of the school buildings is left to the local residents and businesses, however many schools, like the one I visited, are located in poor areas, leaving little hope for local donations.

Quite simply, without the incredible efforts of Sharmil and the Colourful Life Foundation, the school wouldn’t be the great centre of learning that it is today. The headmaster was pleased to inform me that since our support for the school began, the attendance ratings had gone from 62% to 85% and that the number of pupils had gone from 69 to 156. This school is now a real success.

I was sad to learn that many Indian families place more importance on educating their sons than their daughters, often sending boys to private schools and girls to the local government school. These schools are usually drastically underfunded and in poor condition, which means that girls will begin their lives at a disadvantage compared to their male peers.

Along with the schools we already support, this Bais Golam school stands as a shining example to those who walk through its gates, telling them that no matter what race, religion or gender they are, they have a real chance to learn and prosper.

 

Words by Alex McKay


Jagriti School Update

The last year for Jagriti has been very successful, and we are delighted with how our projects are expanding, as we take on more schools and also make great improvements to our existing schools. 3 further schools, all government secondary schools, have been adopted by Jagriti, taking in a total of 1000 children, with the hope to add 300 more children by the end of June 2017. In our existing 11 schools, we hope to add 400 children in 2017. We started with 30 children in 1 school, and now support 2700 children across 11 schools! That’s 2700 children receiving a uniform, a midday meal and in school.

We have made further improvements to our adopted schools, with emphasis on toilet blocks, playground and greenery and cleanliness across all schools. We are also ensuring between 10 and 20 computers are available in all schools, and of course we ensure electricity connections are in every school. We also continue to provide a medical health check to each of our pupils twice a year, as well as dental treatment. Special attention is given to any children suffering malnutrition, with both nutrition and prescribed medicine, and those requiring dental treatment are referred to the dental hospital, with the cost covered by Jagriti. Regular yoga and fitness classes are held at all our schools.

All the pupils at the schools delight in receiving visitors, from a group from the Colourful Life Foundation to Directors of The Bank of India, and all the visitors leave notes in our guestbook detailing their fantastic experiences.

We have also developed a Vocational Training Center in order to teach skills in the fields of stitching, tailoring, beauty and mahendi to women of the slum, so that they are able to get employment or start their own business. So far we have trained 331 ladies, all of whom are either self-employed or associated with Beauty Parlors or Boutiques and are getting good salaries and thus supporting their household expenses.

The center at the Balika Sadan School is to be upgraded with new sewing machines, and we are also starting a new center at Jagriti Gyan Vidhya Mandir School, Sanagner, which will serve the female inhabitants of the nearby Dadabari slum.

15 of our top achievers visited New Dehli in February, experiencing their first ever flight and train ride. Another group of our children performed at the city palace in Jaipur, receiving a standing ovation for their amazing dance performance from Princess Mrs Diya Kumari.

Regarding academic performance, the first batch of our 10th class/grade performed excellently in the Secondary School Examination, conducted by Rajasthan Secondary Education Board, where four students achieved a 1st division result, and 2 got distinctions.

Art students at our Sanganer School can now start their 11th class/grade, and the Science students have been admitted to a renowned school in Jaipur – with fees covered by Jagriti in accordance with our commitment of being with our students forever

In the last year, Jagriti has been honoured with several awards, in date order:
International Vaish Federation awarded Jagriti for its outstanding contribution in transforming the lives of underprivileged children by educating them and making a huge difference in their lives (30th May 2016); Bhamashah Award by Government of Rajasthan (28th June 2016); Highest State Civilian Award for Excellence in Social Service by our Chief Minister Mrs Vasundhra Raje Scindia (15th August 2016); State Award on Cleanliness “Swachh Bharat Award” by our Chief Minister Mrs Vasundhra Raje Scindia (22nd December 2016); Bhamashah Award and Swacch Bahrat Award by Maheshwari Samaj (3rd February 2016); Jagriti adopted Govt Primary School, Sahkar Marg has been awarded with cleanest school under Govt of India’s “Swacch Bharat Swacch Vidhyalaya” school; and Government of Rajasthan has given Certificate of Excellence to our adopted Govt Primary School, Badarwas.

The past year has highlighted our growth both in terms of taking on new schools and developing our existing schools, and the school children’s experience in them. We are delighted with the recognition we have received from the government and other awarding bodies, but also the confidence and academic achievements gained by the students. The support from The Colourful Life Foundation is crucial in this, and we look forward to what we could achieve next!

Thank you to Jai Krishan Jajoo, Jagriti Founder, for the information.
Words by Sian Smith