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


Ace Africa – School Support and Girls Hygiene Programme

School Support

 

Children in developing countries face many barriers in accessing basic education. Although Primary education in Tanzania is free, the cost of school uniforms is often too much for most families earning less than a dollar per day. Children find it difficult to attend school with worn out uniforms, resulting in lack of school attendance and poor academic performance.

Fatimah is an 11 year old girl studying at Kisongo Primary School with her brother Athuman who is 7 years old. These siblings are from a family with a single mother who also is bed ridden with HIV/AIDS. Due to the lack of income in the family, Fatimah and Athuman had to wear tattered uniforms to school, and sadly their fellow students started laughing at them.

Athuman and Fatimah decided to leave school to assist their mother and provide some income for the household. Athuman was selling polythene bags in the market while Fatimah helped take care of the home and her ill mother.

Ace intervention

Ace Africa have helped implement Child to Child Clubs in Primary Schools across East Africa. Children are encouraged to learn crucial life skills in a safe environment. Teachers educate children on HIV/AIDS matters, and in turn children then visit the homes of those affected.

After a CtC club session at the school one of the CtC teachers told Ace staff about Athuman & Fatimah. The following week, Ace staff and one CtC club teacher conducted a visit at Faitmah’s home to discuss with them about school attendance and what could be done to assist them.

Upon arriving at the household, Athuman had gone to sell polythene bags at the market. Fatimah was home with her mother, and explained that other students laughed at them because they had torn uniforms and they lacked any scholastic materials, so they decided to go home to help their mother.

Ace Africa provided Athuman and Fatimah with new school uniforms, books and pens. They are now attending school regularly and have joined the school Child to Child club where they have learned how to establish their own kitchen garden at home. Their confidence and school performance have already improved due to their regular attendance. Their mother also receives counselling from Ace and has been referred to a support group nearby for aid and assistance.

The further education Fatimah and Athuman receive from CtC will also enlighten them about sexual health and rights, preventing them from getting infected. They can also pass on their knowledge to their peers and future generations, allowing their community and even their country to make strides towards a more prosperous future.

 

Girls Hygiene Programme

Jennifer Laizer is a 14 year old class six student studying at Ekenywa Primary School in a rural and remote area of Arusha Tanzania. Due to overwhelming poverty in the home, her parents could not meet the day to day costs of running the family and they took Jennifer to her grandmother’s house so she could have a place to live. When she first experienced menstruation while in Class five, she felt embarrassed to discuss this with her grandmother. She missed two to four school days each month as she used to report being sick each time she had her period. Jennifer started to lose her self-esteem and confidence and her school performance dropped dramatically from being in the top five to the bottom of the class.

 

Ace Intervention

Thankfully, Jennifer attended the Ace Africa girls’ hygiene and menstrual management program for her class. She learned that menstruation is just a normal rite of passage for girls and discovered that it was not an embarrassing situation but rather a stage in life that all girls had to undergo as they advanced into being women. She was also provided with education on hygiene and provided with three pairs of pants and sanitary towels to use during her menstrual period.

Jennifer now attends school regularly and has been an active Life skills & sexual health peer educator, helping other girl’s going through the same challenge she once had. She is now confident about herself, optimistic and dedicated to her studies resulting in her regularly attending class and an improved school performance.

 

 

Thank you to Joe Waddington, Ace Africa Founder, for the information

Words by Sian Smith