In India, the Dalit caste is the lowest within the Indian caste system, many of whom are politically powerless and living in poverty. Girls are more disadvantaged than boys in terms of access to education, as a poor family will choose to pay for the advancement of male children.
We support a girls’ hostel, enabling vulnerable girls to access high-quality education, accommodation and care during the school term to holistically support their growth and development.
As well as education, the girls are also supported to participate in extra-curricular activities including celebrations/festivals and local outings, as well as sports, dance, singing, music and cooking. The girls access regular health check-ups and participate in information sessions on health and hygiene practices.
They maintain close family links and spend as much time as possible in their home communities during school breaks. Many of the girls are ‘half-orphans’, which means they are children of single parents. Our support also includes training in planning, management and child-protection.
Every year since this project started, we have been providing hostel accommodation and remedial education to 25 to 30 girls from disadvantaged backgrounds, enabling them to succeed in their schooling. The project is now seeing students graduate from high school and continue their links with the Hostel as they attend tertiary education or training.
COVID-19 PANDEMIC RESPONSE
During the worst of the COVID-19 waves in India, the girls hostel had to close in line with school closures in the region. In response to COVID-19, the Diocese of Amritsar provided food packages to families connected to the project, shared information on COVID-19, including awareness and prevention measures and project staff did check in’s to houses of families connected to the project (after lock-down). Through working closely with the government, project staff sped up access to medicines for people in the rural areas who have no or limited access to transport to urban areas.
During 2021, health sessions were held with the young women to raise awareness of symptoms, prevention (e.g. hand washing, mask-wearing), and protecting themselves and others from COVID-19.
Church of North India – Diocese of Amritsar